Jernej Suhadolnik, Work, 20. 8. 2016
Two months ago, when Alexander Čeferin officially announced candidacy for the top of European Football Associations (UEFA), the few people believed to be Slovenian occupy so prestigious, influential and responsible position. Today it is the opposite: the first man Football Association of Slovenia (NZS), 48-year-old lawyer from Grosuplje far the highest quoted in the struggle for succession to the legendary Michel Platini.
A real surprise would be if the Spaniard Ángel María Villar or Dutchman Michael van Praaga in the fight for election to the position of UEFA President Alexander Čeferinu on election congress on 14 September in Athens clasped plans. Čeferin for the first time revealed the background of his candidature and the moves that they pulled the possible victory in the Greek metropolis.
How many flights have for each other, since you are embarking on the election campaign?
I only know that it is very difficult, because they want to see this many people, even if they know you. In some countries, they want attention also to the local media. Everyone should show respect and to go there. There will certainly be even more exhausting the days until 14 September. I did not count the flights probably will figure at the end closer to a hundred and ten. I was lucky that I was at the time of the European Championship meet your most important people in one place in France, it is useful to also meet Presidents thirteen national associations at the regional conference in Moscow. Next week I met with seven members of the UEFA from Central Europe in Budapest, then in Glasgow four-island connections. Trying to combine visits, because I could not visit all of Kazakhstan to Portugal and Iceland.
How did it all start? When you find that you want to become president of UEFA?
For many years I have excellent relations with the Scandinavian and Nordic countries. Not only with Swedes, including Norwegians, Danes and Finns. We have similar views of the world, including in football, the same is true for presidents of associations from our former common state. When the year Michel Platini happened as he was, I was first called Scandinavians and told me: "I think you'd be the right candidate for a new president." First of all, I just smiled, saying, where we will get support. They are assured that they will strive for it, because it's time for change, but this did not much ignored. Then they called me from Italy and told me that I will support, if I go into battle.At a regional conference, at which were also Russia and Turkey, I was uniformly supported thirteen countries. I got the support of more than a third of the members to UEFA, for me it has become a duty, to me give in the game, since in life only offer one such opportunity. This is for me a great personal challenge.
You are on the candidature really begin to think only when Platini failed to appeal and it only reduced the sentence of prohibition of performing functions in football for four years?
Hold on. Since then, every day I receive phone calls ... If you know that people believe in you, if you notice that the Western countries are ready to support a candidate, which many people coming from Eastern Europe, and because of values, like them, it is a great recognition. From this perspective, we can Slovenians good connecting element. We understand the east, west, north, south, nowhere we have big enemies speak foreign languages, we find ourselves in the West, we understand the mentality of inhabitants of the East, not least their sense of humor ... Football Europe more than anything else needs unity, and this can only be achieved through dialogue and balance.
Later it publicly supported by many States to UEFA, in fact you are currently favorite to win. But how solid is this support with regard to the secrecy of the elections?
I know you would never publicly endorsed someone, then secretly vote for someone else. I do not know why anyone would do that, given that he did not offer anything. Let's wait for the elections. I would not feel bad if this support should be found to be false. I know that in previous elections, there was no public support, this time the other candidates do not have a single voice public support, for example. Already it seems really great thing that people are willing to devote their name for me. Otherwise, you're right, of course, vote by secret ballot. But if you publicly declare support prepared many connections, I reached mine. If it was the current President, to understand the hypothetical possibility of support with a bun in my pocket, so I do not see the logic of such a thing. Because I do not have the opportunity to offer anyone anything, even if I wanted to! Often in sports policy also illogical things happen, for example, the pressure just before the election in any relationship, and so on. Anything is possible until 14 September, but, I, I look good. Else I can say. I'm certainly not going to go for delegates in those electoral homes ...
At the same time to said support are behind the scenes orbited rumors about who is behind you.
Hold on. BBC reporter told me that in England, some wondered who the hell is this guy. He was never in football, coming from Slovenia, which we do not know exactly where lies, something must be in the background. The Austrians, for example, wrote that for me stands Platini, will continue to be led by UEFA, all of a sudden he came out that the President of FIFA, Gianni Infantino with a visit to the Brdo showed that chose me, and that was accidentally published in the Dutch media ...
... I spotted that behind you is also Vladimir Putin.
I would be happy even this support! In the said article, the Netherlands has stated that Russians support me because of my many years of excellent relations with their minister of sport Vitaly Mutkom I've really only seen once in a lifetime at the regional conference in Moscow.
Is not it normal for election time?
Hold on, maybe in the next few weeks so the public is what "truth". Obviously, the candidate can not get support, angry because they can not believe that there is no support, so looking background. If I were in his place, I would be wanted, or my people may not like. Maybe in twenty years I have not done and do not trust me, but not to the same people repeatedly ask whether I would still support it.
Why would also Aleksander Čeferin the best candidate for president UEFA?
During discussions with the National Federations, I see that they are tired of the current work, faces energy. They want new faces, greater transparency, involvement in the functioning of UEFA. Uefa is an excellent organization only needs evolution, has an excellent administration. But now make decisions in a narrow circle in which people who are in no way connected with the national associations. With colleagues from all over Europe who support me and help me in the campaign could do moving forward with UEFA.
Some of you complain that a lack of experience.
Similar concerns I had some in Slovenia, before I came on the NHS. But, do you automatically the best candidate for a position, if you held twenty or thirty years? At any victory will be one of my requests constraints credentials to the President and members of the Executive Committee of UEFA. Do this for twenty years, obviously you get the feeling that the organization is yours and nobody is allowed to interfere there. Let me say for example a member of the executive committee, he said, saying how he can ever hope to stand without first talking with us. That says everything about the state of mind of some, not all.
The essence of your program is "Creating the Perfect Balance" (creating a perfect balance). Is this password in harmony with the richest clubs? Quality is in fact becoming increasingly concentrated. Anyone who was once good is now even better, whoever he was rich, he even richer. Vice versa for poorer and poorer. You have established a dialogue with the associations of the richest European clubs (ECA), the informal influence is perhaps even stronger than the formal? Their demands are contrary to the balance that you mention.
I agree with you. The differences are greater every day, but do not forget the solidarity. The representatives of some of the biggest clubs I have already spoken. I can say that clubs do not want a closed Super League, which is spoken, namely the clubs appreciate the principle of solidarity. UEFA problem was that it operated without the President, the Secretary General had a half-year campaign for president of FIFA. Clubs just want a say in UEFA and this is right, because ultimately generate a significant part of Uefinega budget and thereby help in solidarity. I noticed that some people, including a candidate for president, unduly frighten the public, saying that clubs in the trenches and can only be an experienced man who has long been an official at UEFA, prevents intention clubs. I got a different feeling.
So closed league, such as North America, NBA, NHL and others, is not an option?
Certainly not an option for me if I'm elected to the position of President. This would mean war with UEFA. On the one hand this would be skregano with all the principles established by the UEFA, which is an organization of communications, and therefore also of all clubs in Europe, on the other hand, apparently completely closed league does not advocate nor clubs, but this is only a kind threat if they are not led dialogue. They want a better product and participation in the UEFA. This is their right, so it is also one of the points of my program dialogue.
In relation Uefa - clubs should therefore not expect a revolution?
Absolutely not. Clubs are important, even if among them there are differences. Clubs in the English Premier League generate so much revenue, not to adapt its calendar of any newly formed league. Champions League is the best sports product in the world that may be realized even more money, but we need to maintain solidarity. If I am elected, I will not be allowed to eliminate a dream clubs from Slovenia, or any other club in Europe about to play in the Champions League. This is in agreement with representatives of the big clubs.
How do you see this year's euro, which was first made 24 teams? Is an expanded euro, in your opinion dunk for UEFA? They come to you of any desire or even demands of anyone to reduce the number of participants, such as back to 16 teams? It would be indeed possible only in the 2024th
Everything can be changed. But this year's tournament format is very good, even if it has its pluses and minuses. Earnings for UEFA is better than before, more countries may participate in the championship, which is only good. Perhaps conspicuous length of the tournament, many believe that the extended euro similar to the World Cup. But all the matches were exciting, nothing was decided until the end, which is good. You know that Portugal came forward from the group through the eye of a needle, it became European champion.
There is a link between the choice of organizers Euro 2024 and the election of the President of UEFA? Candidate to many countries, such as Germany, Scandinavian alliance, Turkey, Italy ...
The President has an important word, but the organization of the European Championship does not act alone, but will be resolved by the Executive Committee. Nominations officially has not submitted even one, so I do not know who will really run, the more it comes to rumors. All of the above certainly will not stand. After Euro 2020 will be in thirteen countries and certainly represents a risk for all, as it will for the first time in a form that will reliably prevail interest to UEFA. If you measure something else, it does not exist. Nobody is, for example, he said, promise me that you will support our candidacy, otherwise we will not support it. Everyone would anyway replied that he can not promise anything, because actually I can not. Also, in general I have interesting experiences, like earlier in Slovenia. It is hard to believe, but to me nobody wants to or anything required. It is possible that anyone expects, but none of me does not want anything. If so, this will be supported if there is one, that we support - this is not.
Elections can proceed in the enumeration of the small and large nations? You can pre-election campaign, which could in the next few weeks to become more "dirty" - the election is nevertheless almost a month - divide the European family?
I'm sure not. Talking with the presidents of other associations, such as "major" and "minor". I come from a small country, but I am not a candidate is not small not medium, I am the candidate of all. It is difficult to say that Italy has a small soccer federation or that Russia is a small country, Turkey as well. I was surprised, for example, even the fact that the majority supported my proposal, according to which the sentences for the same offenses determined according to the size of the budget of each association. San Marino would fine in the amount of 100,000 euros hit otherwise as one of the richest unions. It is interesting that the large federations agreed to this proposal, hailing it as well, blue. At the same time also "less" to know that they can not receive from UEFA as many assets such as Germany and England to UEFA bring a lot of revenue. And "lower" are well aware of. People are very real, they are aware that they must sit on the executive committee (also) people from the big unions, for example, not only the presidents of Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro, and so on.
Your proposal seems to be very interesting, it might have been useful somewhere else, not only in football. Suppose the fines for traffic violations and other similar cases.
Perhaps, even if it is in Slovenia quickly a problem as driving Ferraris also people with minimum wage ... Rather, there is the fact that the sentence "hurt" all the same union, otherwise they might bury someone, someone else would be imposed on penalties only waved his hand. Look at UEFA: in the family, we Gibraltar, which was only recently adopted, we have Kosovo, which has no infrastructure, and will not be able to play games on home soil, in addition, virtually no budget. We have to be careful because this is a strict liability. Look at the example of our matches in Florence in 2011, when a drunk imaginary fan racially insulted Maria Balotellija, which we have received a € 30,000 penalty. What should the NHS in Italy do with an intoxicated primitive? Look at the example of the Croatian Football Federation (HNS): I do not want to interfere in its problems, but how to avoid doing certain individuals who demonstrated anti HNS? To be clear: of course I agree with the responsibility of national authorities, otherwise it will answer no, but punishment must be fair.
During a speech at the opening of the training center at Brdo we also publicly thanked Michel Platini. What is your attitude to the former President of UEFA? Present on the euro, we get the feeling that it is the current lead UEFA, which temporarily chaired by your competitor Ángel María Villar, albeit an invitation to some matches, but outwardly there was no real interest in order to attract to the stadiums or the euro, by France has helped win over Platini. As if they went its merits for the development of football in nothing due to the well-known affair with FIFA and Blatter.
Michel Platini has done a lot for European football great has helped to balance, set forth in its electoral program, to solidarity between the peoples of Europe and football nations. As a lawyer, I do not want to go into a concrete procedure, since Platini as I know, in front of you some legal battles. As UEFA President, I respected him, in my opinion, was very good and charismatic president, well led UEFA. You know how often human beings: when someone is at the top, they want everyone to be in the vicinity. When this same man falls, some will use it to communicate on, while others will no longer be known. Such a reality can obviously meet as a football legend. The fact is that since Platini distanced some of which were previously closely embraced. It is human nature.
UEFA can be run professionally, as it has recently also Platini, or in the manner whatsoever he chose his predecessor Lenart Johansson. In one of the statements you said it would be in the event of winning more inclined to another method of keeping UEFA. Does this mean that, in this case, take with you in Nyon several current employees of the NHS, you trust most?
After this my statement like people who are employed in the UEFA told that Johansson sometimes visited the headquarters of UEFA only every three months. I think Uefa is no longer in a position that would allow the President of such an approach. The fact is that I have to first win the election, then you can talk about work colleagues. In the event of victory without first went to Switzerland and then further know what it is legacy to UEFA. No matter how often would operate from Nyon, you would need a team of people who can be trusted. But I do not want to think about it in advance, the first should be elections.
Despite publicly expressed support of Presidents of many unions in many of us have doubts about the success of your candidacy. How to watch thinking, saying, Slovenian can not succeed in the fight for the President of such an important organization such as UEFA, in this kind of stereotypical skeptical attitude of Slovenians?
Such as a brake in the mindset ... Slovenians are successful people. Due to the geostrategic situation and history have an exceptional ability to understand and coexistence with the North, South, East and West, and capable of operating in different modes, can be important players in the world. We have a problem only in that we do not respect ourselves enough, which is why we have a lack of self-confidence, while we do not respect enough even to each other.
What would your eventual victory mean for our football, what could be directly or indirectly obtained Slovenia?
Even the fact that you have personal contact with the President of UEFA, it would be very important for the NHS, Slovenian selection and football. To Slovenia in the football world would watch otherwise, I would enjoy greater respect. Turning to the country: my personal interest is that in this situation as many people try to convince you of this, in which I personally believe - that Slovenia is a beautiful country to visit it. In order to convince them of the fact that Slovenia pays well to invest, you should try harder because of the deadly bureaucracy exceptionally unfavorable tax policies, inflexibility and the fact that we are world champions in finding ways to why something can not be done. If I had the opportunity I bring major global player should first carry out a dialogue with the country in order to know whether those people are welcome to us if you would come. From this position may informally many do for the country.
Did you feel any change in humans in everyday life, since you are considered a favorite?
No, no change. Those that are hanging out, they thought about me all the same. I feel positive energy with others. During vacation at sea, I was, like, stop and many encouraged me in the style of "come on, Slovenes, because we can do, your success would be a magnificent" and so on. You know that the majority is not so negative. I do not look back at the people who have problems with themselves and, consequently, angry at the world.
The public considered to be the family man, you have repeatedly emphasized. In case of victory would you waiting for new work responsibilities, not only in Nyon, but also during visits to various events in Europe, even if it were only for shooting ... How much are you supporting a family?
His wife and children I am very understanding. Nothing less is not love if you let each other breathe. From his family, of course, I will not be separated without UEFA nor any other organization would not be worth it. Among us such a bond that nothing can break. Even the girls are growing, they go after their own ways, have their own interests. The oldest Nina, for example, finishing law school ... Our family will always be linked to the maximum. Daughters are also pleased with me, worry about them, how will the election, or really enjoys the support and the like. The exception is the youngest Ana, she sometimes mentions UEFA, FIFA sometimes ... Neza and Nina actively monitor developments in social media, quickly notice when somebody expressed support. I also support the wife, Barbara, and I her. I think it is good if each enjoys in the business. I do not see special happiness in families in which all may always stuck together, but at the same time unhappy. We are very happy.
They repeatedly stressed, however, that you are primarily a lawyer, a lawyer. Keep a successful law firm, you probably also due to decide on a less intense presence in Nyon, in the event of victory?
I can not just leave everything and say that I do not care. In addition, the office is a perfect introduced, I got excellent partners; not only father and brother, also colleagues. In recent years, I was often absent for two or three days, sometimes even a whole week, this would not be a problem. I believe that it should be in the event of victory of at least a month or two constantly in Nyon to meet all thoroughly. Subsequently, however, to see how to proceed, but this time you really do not want to burden them with speculation.
You mentioned that before arriving at the NHS did not know exactly what to expect. UEFA is incomparably larger organization; if the NHS annually generates about 10 million euros of revenue, Uefa, on average, generate more than two billion euros. How would the possible victory prepared for this leap?
The story is similar. Both the NHS as UEFA dare say that this is a well-oiled machine. UEFA is working well, with 450 employees, the NHS such as 20 or more. Uefa needs especially lead, which has for some time no fresh ideas on the Executive Committee and liaison with national federations. On a number of ideas on which we are talking with colleagues, I can not speak, but could noticeably raise European football. Passage by saying I'm not afraid. This is not for arrogance; the administration, which is very familiar with, I believe that it would have worked well.I do not need for themselves, even in the NHS did not come, because it would require. Now you already know well, you know, that does not enjoy even the emergence of the public. I really like football, I really want to do something good, if possible. In Slovenia, we have done a lot, we will try in Europe. This is for me a great personal challenge, in a way, this time he also writes history.
Journalist colleagues from Europe have often asked me about your background about you as a favorite team to win the UEFA management and the assessment of your work at the head of the NHS. What would you highlight as the greatest achievement in football during your leadership of the NHS?
This is certainly raising the Slovenian National Championship by many parameters, such as TV viewing, the average visit and interesting matches. This has a lot of merit Football Association of Slovenia, not just me. For the first time in history we have own exercise center at Brdo, there is a really wonderful exercise facilities with the administrative building of the NHS. Foreigners who come to visit our center are rated as the most beautiful in Europe. Even the senior national team, we ensure optimal training conditions around her peace reigns, we are waiting only on a breakthrough on a big tournament, even if it is difficult. When talking with foreign counterparts, they can not believe how low budgets have our clubs and associations. Maybe it will happen, that I would be elected president of UEFA, Slovenia will qualify for the mundial 2018. But even then would find the criticism that this has happened only because of me no longer there.
In the construction of the training center you've been the longest battle with the state. How regulated is your relationship with the Slovenian state?
Let me tell you an example: the country we have - the decision PARS - because in their opinion, incorrect recording of 2010, before I became president of the NHS, charged 700,000 euros additional tax. We have successfully appealed to the Ministry of Finance, so we must return the amount, but the projected tax advisors, this means that they will come again to visit ... from countries really do not receive aid, but on this I have to be honest. Director of Sport and the line minister shall make every effort to help us, the last time we improve relations with the country, we understand that we can not get the money if it is not in the budget. In the best relations we have with the Olympic Committee. For the next four years, we have closed a sponsorship pyramid structure, which makes me particularly happy. Never I would not be indifferent to what is happening in the NHS, because I during its union wove strong ties with members of the Executive Committee and the employees are in some way involved with him and senior national teams. The renovation project of the NHS, we have invested a lot of effort and no I would not care if something goes wrong.