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UEFA President’s warm tribute to Portuguese FA President Fernando Gomes

“A natural leader” – the description used by UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin in praise of Fernando Gomes, President of the Portuguese Football Federation (FPF) over a momentous decade of achievement.

Fernando Gomes (left) and Aleksander Čeferin
Fernando Gomes (left) and Aleksander Čeferin FPF

Mr Čeferin was speaking at a gala event at the FPF’s Cidade do Futebol complex, attended by members of the Portuguese government and figures from the country’s football world, which celebrated Mr Gomes’ ten years at the helm of Portuguese football – a period when Portugal has enjoyed considerable success on the field and made remarkable progress off it.

Portugal's captain Cristiano Ronaldo and his team mates celebrate winning UEFA EURO 2016
Portugal's captain Cristiano Ronaldo and his team mates celebrate winning UEFA EURO 2016 UEFA via Getty Images

Under Mr Gomes’ presidency, which began in December 2011, Portugal has captured the UEFA EURO title in 2016 – its first major football crown – won the inaugural UEFA Nations League on home soil in 2019 and triumphed in both the UEFA Futsal EURO Championship (2018) and FIFA Futsal World Cup (2021).

During this time, Portugal’s youth teams also won the European under-17 and under-19 titles in 2016 and 2018 respectively, and the national women’s team made its major tournament debut at the 2017 UEFA Women’s EURO finals.

The FPF has earned equal renown and respect away from the pitch for introducing, improving and developing a variety of activities, initiatives and infrastructures at all levels, as well as reinforcing links with the community and Portuguese football fans.

Aleksander Čeferin on Fernando Gomes

“It is no coincidence that the majority of the FPF’s greatest successes and trophies have been won under his presidency, because he is someone who lives and breathes football. I could talk for hours about his skills, his dedication and his undeniable wisdom in managing one of the most important federations in Europe."

Success story

Fernando Gomes celebrates his team's victory at the UEFA EURO 2016 final against France in Paris
Fernando Gomes celebrates his team's victory at the UEFA EURO 2016 final against France in ParisUEFA via Getty Images

Fernando Gomes, a former member of the FC Porto management board, has also excelled as a football administrator and diplomat in European football circles. In April 2015, he was elected as a UEFA Executive Committee member, and became a UEFA vice-president in 2017. He also served as a vice-president of the world football body FIFA from 2017 to 2021.

He thanked Aleksander Čeferin for travelling to Portugal for the celebrations, adding that he had learned a great deal from working in harmony with the UEFA President.

Fernando Gomes

“I have learned important lessons: courage, uncompromising defence of values and the ability to fight for all, and not just for a few – as [was the case] this year, in defending the open model of European competitions against a ‘Super League’ that would cause irreparable damage to Portuguese football and to several other countries.”

UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin speaking at the gala event
UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin speaking at the gala event FPF

Mr Gomes presented Mr Čeferin with the Quinas de Ouro award, in particular for his meritorious service and contribution to the development of football, and for his defending of all national football associations irrespective of their size. The award is an FPF presidential honour on behalf of the association, the Portuguese players’ body and the national coaches’ association.

Portugal’s help to UEFA – and European football

In recent years, the assistance and know-how provided by Mr Gomes and the FPF, alongside the Portuguese government, has proved particularly crucial in helping UEFA and European football overcome difficulties brought about by the COVID pandemic.

The UEFA Champions League trophy in Lisbon
The UEFA Champions League trophy in LisbonPOOL/AFP via Getty Images

Following the resumption of football in summer 2020 after a several-month hiatus, Portugal was entrusted by UEFA with hosting the rescheduled and revamped 2019/20 UEFA Champions League closing stages.

The season was completed in August 2020 from the quarter-final stage onwards in single matches behind closed doors at the Estádio do Sport Lisboa e Benfica and Estádio José Alvalade in the Portuguese capital Lisbon.

Aleksander Čeferin

“Fernando was the decisive element that enabled us to successfully close the 2019/20 UEFA Champions League season. With the support of the Portuguese government, we made history because we trusted one another and we respected each other. That's the essence of football.”

In May this year, once more aided by the Portuguese FA and the country’s authorities, UEFA was able to move the UEFA Champions League final between English sides Chelsea and Manchester City from Istanbul to Porto at a late stage, owing to travel difficulties for English fans after Turkey had been placed on the UK’s ‘red list’.

Porto's Estádio do Dragão staged the 2021 UEFA Champions League final
Porto's Estádio do Dragão staged the 2021 UEFA Champions League finalGetty Images

Fernando Gomes, the FPF and Portugal’s government made an immeasurable contribution to European football by sharing vast experience and organisational expertise in hosting major football events on two occasions to help UEFA complete its premium European club competition.

This has proved to be an outstanding example of the solidarity, cooperation and unity that has enabled the football community on this continent to overcome unprecedented circumstances and challenging obstacles in COVID times.

Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa

"I want to especially thank Fernando Gomes for the way he has helped to honour Portugal in the world…not only through sporting results, but also through the (…) capacity to bring to Portugal, in difficult moments, such important sporting events. In particular in these two years of pandemic, Fernando Gomes has helped to underline the difference that Portugal has made in the world as a safe place to live, to work and to come to major international competitions."

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa (left) and Fernando Gomes
Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa (left) and Fernando GomesFPF

At the celebration event, Portugal’s President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa presented Fernando Gomes with the Grã-Cruz da Ordem da Instrução Pública (Grand Cross of the Order of Public Instruction), a high Portuguese order of civil merit.

FPF milestones

Under Fernando Gomes’ presidency, the FPF has undergone far-reaching development and change – and its work has become a byword for professional excellence.

Cidade do Futebol

Fernando Gomes (right) and Portugal's president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa open the Cidade do Futebol in 2016
Fernando Gomes (right) and Portugal's president Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa open the Cidade do Futebol in 2016AFP/Getty Images

A key element was the building and inauguration in 2016 of the Cidade do Futebol (City of Football) – funded with the help of UEFA’s HatTrick programme – a prized asset for Portuguese football comprising the FPF headquarters and national training centre.

FPF TV – Football School – Football Observatory

The Canal  11 headquarters at the Cidade do Futebol
The Canal 11 headquarters at the Cidade do FutebolCarolina Delgado

The pioneering FPF Canal 11 TV channel, also set up with UEFA HatTrick backing, has become a cornerstone of the association’s content innovation project, which also includes the Portugal Football School – a higher education initiative focused entirely on the beautiful game and giving training in a variety of disciplines.

The association has also launched the Portugal Football Observatory, to gather and analyse data enabling continuous understanding and development of football.

Helping Portugal cope with COVID

The FPF has provided crucial assistance to Portuguese health authorities in COVID times
The FPF has provided crucial assistance to Portuguese health authorities in COVID timesFPF

Moreover, the FPF has demonstrated its innate sense of social responsibility, showing its beating social heart during the country’s COVID crisis in helping Portugal's health authorities by offering the Casa dos Atletas facilities as a back-up hospital for patients, as well as providing staff to serve as volunteers.

“Much More Than a Federation”.

Over the last few years, the FPF has become a symbol of an institution that does not stop at football – seeking, through the systematic and coherent exercise of its social responsibilities, to promote a fairer and more inclusive society.

Under Fernando Gomes’ leadership, the FPF has a perspective of integration into the community that leads it to define itself as “Much More Than a Federation”.

Tributes to Fernando Gomes

Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa, Portugal’s President
“We are here today to thank you as a leader, but above all as a person. We like you as a person. And it is because we like you as a person that we admire you as a leader. It would not have been possible to achieve these ten years if you had been any other person, starting with your humility.”

António Costa, Portuguese Prime Minister
“There is a very different FPF after Fernando Gomes. Congratulations to the federation, it is because of them that there are more Portuguese people enjoying football.”

Luís Figo, Portuguese football legend
“It has been an excellent cycle for Portuguese football, everyone should be happy for what has been achieved in these ten years. So many titles, so much good work.”

Vítor Baía, FC Porto vice-president
“It has been ten years of excellence, that is the right word. There were many extremely important achievements, and that gave something special to Portuguese football that the Portuguese people have deserved for some time now.”

Fernando Santos, Portugal’s national team coach, EURO 2016 und 2019 UEFA Nations League winner
“The goal was to win a major competition at national team level – and he has already achieved two. [Fernando Gomes] is a man of great values, of great humanism, and that is based on what he is as a family man, something that he holds so dear.”