UEFA and European football are mourning the death of Hans Bangerter, who served as UEFA’s General Secretary for almost three decades, from 1960 to 1988.
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The Swiss football administrator, who was 98, was a key figure in the development not only of UEFA in its early years, but also of European football, acting as a catalyst for innovations that were to shape the game.
‘An important figure’
UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin paid a warm tribute:
“UEFA is deeply saddened to hear of the passing of Hans Bangerter, who played a crucial role in UEFA’s history, not only as an outstanding General Secretary but also as an important figure in the development of the organisation and evolution of European football at a time when the game itself was undergoing great change.”
“Without seeking the limelight, he was responsible for shaping UEFA’s destiny, leading the body to maturity and earning renown and respect for his skill, diplomacy, commitment and leadership qualities. He will be missed greatly. On behalf of UEFA and the European football community, I wish to extend my deepest sympathy to Mr Bangerter’s family and friends at this sad time.”
Born in Studen near the Swiss federal capital Berne on 10 June 1924, Hans Bangerter obtained a diploma in public administration from the technical college in nearby Biel.
After initially working for the postal administration, he was employed by the Swiss federal school of gymnastics and sport in Macolin, where his linguistic knowledge made him the ideal person to look after foreign guests.
It was in this role that he welcomed senior officials from the world football body FIFA, who approached him in 1953 when they were looking for an assistant for the General Secretary Kurt Gassmann. In 1959, after several successful years at FIFA, Bangerter was invited by UEFA to become the European body’s General Secretary.
He would hold the position at the helm of UEFA’s administration from 1 January 1960 – when the body left Paris to establish its new headquarters in Berne – until his retirement on 31 December 1988.
Hans Bangerter takes the credit for the introduction of two pieces of legislation that were to become characteristic not only of the European club competitions, but also of other football tournaments.
Firstly, he succeeded in establishing the principle of fixed dates for matches in the European competitions.
He also came up with the idea of overcoming the deadlock of drawn ties – which had often resulted in the need to arrange play-off matches despite the constraints, even then, of the calendar – by making goals scored away from home count double, a ruling which became widely used throughout the football world.
Hans Bangerter was made a UEFA honorary member at the UEFA Congress in Gothenburg in June 1992 and continued to regularly attend the UEFA Congress and major UEFA competition finals, having lost none of his passion for football.
He was also an honorary member of the Swiss Football Association and held the FIFA Order of Merit.