Čeferin says financial gap between clubs biggest challenge for potential next term

President of the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) Aleksander Čeferin had a one-on-one debate at the Bled Strategic Forum (BSF) on Monday, announcing that if he wins another term, his biggest challenge to tackle would be to narrow the financial gap between big clubs and small clubs.

“We cannot stop it, but we can slow it down a little bit,” he said in the interview dubbed Power Talk: One-on-One with Aleksander Čeferin, hosted by Ms Ajša Vodnik, CEO of AmCham Slovenia.

He admitted that in the new elections for the UEFA president will be much easier, as people know him. “You cannot force them to give you support, but it is much easier now when you have the position.”

Čeferin complained about what he labelled as conspiracy theories in the media about a man from such a small country as Slovenia holding such an important position.

“The guy from AP said to me nobody knows you, you are from Slovenia, it must be something behind,” he said half-jokingly.

Asked about the turning point ahead of the elections in 2016 when he was elected the UEFA head, he said that the biggest push were the public support given by the Scandinavian countries and Italy, followed by the Balkans and Russia.

Some would think that Čeferin gets under tremendous pressure from various officials and other people, for example when he gets invited to parties, but he said he did not have any pressure.

»They invite me to some fancy parties, but I don’t go because I don’t like it there, I prefer going home,” he said, noting that he and his spouse, an entrepreneur, were very supportive of each other.

Čeferin believes that the popularity of football and the money it generates could be used for good causes. “We distribute 85% of our revenues back to football”, he said, with money also going for football pitches in many underprivileged parts of the world.

“There is not too much money in football. I say there is not enough. What we need is a proper distribution of money,” he said, adding that football brought positive energy that should be used for good.

Asked about Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and other “football gods”, Čeferin said that one would be surprised how humble and honest they actually are, and how much they were willing to do for charity.

He noted that he had helped develop the local football charity event in Bilje, Slovenia by calling former star players and inviting them to participate. “They gladly come,” he said of the event at which he scored this year the first goal and wore number 23.

He admitted that he is “superstitious a little bit about this number”, which is connected to his birthday. “There are also some other symbols but I don’t see them in superstitious way.”

Čeferin also revealed that he played many sports as a teenager and that his favourite club in the former Yugoslavia was not a Slovenian club but Hajduk Split from Croatia.

Answering a related question from audience, he said that there were no plans at the moment to have a regional football league here as this would harm local leagues, “which is clearly shown in basketball.”

But he did announce the creation of a new international league as in the future clubs will want more international matches, although he could not reveal any detail about the project.

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