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President Čeferin: Stick together for the future of football

UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin spoke in an exclusive interview with former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville on his YouTube series, The Overlap, this week.

 UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin
UEFA President Aleksander Čeferin UEFA

In an exclusive interview with former Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville on his YouTube series The Overlap, UEFA president Aleksander Čeferin covered a range of topics at the heart of European football.

President Čeferin discussed his early life in Slovenia and his ambitions for the future, before expanding on UEFA's responsibilities at the centre of the game and a desire to ensure football remains the number one sport in Europe.

The full conversation can be viewed here, and below, we highlight some of the key quotes during the 45-minute interview.

Reinvesting in football

"Everybody thinks that the main source of income for UEFA is club competitions, but it’s not. It’s national team competitions.

"We distribute, out of all the revenues we have, 97%. I don’t know if we can find one NGO who spends, percentage wise, less for their operation. We distribute 97%, and when they say UEFA has big revenues, I always say I would love to have more."

Standing for re-election

"There are so many ambitions that it's hard to name [them] all, but we have to keep our football from these sharks that are swimming around and trying to ruin the pyramid, that's very important.

"It's important to invest into infrastructure around Europe, to invest into women's football even more. And of course, [the] youth [clubs]. And these are the most important things that we have to deal with. Football in Europe is, infrastructure-wise, developing unbelievably, and that’s mainly because of UEFA giving money back to the federations and clubs."

Evolving UEFA competitions

"I will not support any more changes of competitions. I think now we are here and we should play the Champions League, Europa League and Conference League like it will be in 2024. I don't think we should change. I don't even think it was necessary to change it, but it will be better, so it's an evolution, not a revolution.

"What makes me happy is that our competition is very interesting, and that everybody loves it … When you hear the Champions League anthem, for example, everyone is happy. As long as this exists, I’m happy."

Fighting closed competitions

"They’re not attacking UEFA, they’re attacking the football pyramid. They are attacking everything that has been here for hundreds of years.

"I think that it's very important that the ones who love football stick together, speak a lot, that we try to have leaders in football everywhere, people who love football."

Multi-club ownership

"This multi-club ownership question is an interesting question. I think we should think about it for the future and see what to do.

"There is more and more interest for this multi-club ownership and we shouldn’t just say no to the investments, and for multi-club ownership. But we have to see what kind of rules we set in that case, because rules have to be strict.

"I think it has to be quick because, you know, everything has to happen quickly in football."

Early life

"I was born almost 56 years ago in Slovenia but it was part of Former Yugoslavia. I had a very nice childhood.

"We were on the street all the time, we played every sport. That’s why athletes from the region of ex-Yugoslavia, are so good even now,because sport was everything for us. So, that’s how it started. I had a great mother and father, a sister and a brother.

"We didn’t have much material stuff - material things don’t mean so much to you. We had one [pair of] shoes for school, for football, for basketball, for everything. But we didn’t actually need more. I had a very, very nice and happy childhood."