Former Croatia and AC Milan star, who joined European football’s governing body earlier this year, tells Gazzetta dello Sport that FIFA should respect the people’s game.
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Zvonimir Boban, chief of football at UEFA, has dismissed FIFA’s idea of staging the World Cup every two years as "even worse than the Super League", emphasising that football should "always belong to everyone who loves it."
In a wide-ranging interview published on Saturday by the weekly supplement of Italian daily Gazzetta dello Sport, the Croatian football legend also described last April’s ill-fated European Super League proposal as "a shameful attempt that was stopped by people, even before (sporting and political) institutions."
"I am proud of how UEFA and its president Aleksander Čeferin reacted," said Boban, "it was an initiative driven purely by the business interests of a few people, who forgot about values, history, tradition and identity - all crucial aspects of our sport."
"They were nullifying social and cultural responsibilities that leaders of football clubs rooted in local communities should always consider," added Boban. "All because these billionaires had made mistakes managing their clubs’ accounts. They were irresponsible. They wanted everything for themselves - to do away with values and make football a sort of ‘American’ sport."
Boban, who won the 1994 Champions League during an illustrious 10-year playing career at AC Milan, took up his new role at UEFA last April. He had previously held several high-profile positions in football governance, serving as FIFA’s Deputy Secretary-General from 2016 to 2019 with specific responsibility for developing both the game and the organisation of competitions.
As a strong advocate of using on-field technology, Boban has won a reputation as a football innovator and played a lead role in the development of the video assistant referee. However, he regards the concept of a biennial FIFA World Cup as a step back for football.
"I’m in favour of new things for improving football, but you cannot be obsessed with changing just for the good of it. Football is loved also because it has not changed too much over time," Boban told Gazzetta.
"This idea of [FIFA president Gianni] Infantino and [Arsene] Wenger is absurd, even worse than the Super League idea," said Boban. "It would be bad for players, leagues, clubs as well as for the appeal of competitions. It does not respect anybody. It would destroy football’s institutions together with the footballing pyramid that was built thanks to decades of work. UEFA would never propose a biennial EURO, even if it meant more money."
Football belongs to everyone
Boban rejected Mr Wenger’s belief that the FIFA project will modernise football. "He does not understand that it is meant only to bring more money and power and fulfill sick ambitions," said Boban. "Football does not belong to Infantino or Wenger. It’s not mine or yours, it belongs to everyone who loves it."
"We should never forget that everything starts from a ball rolling on a pitch with players, that this is a people’s game. This has always been and will always be my vision of football. It’s not populistic or pathetic, it’s just the truth. They must respect this and stop."