Uefa President Ceferin swears Europe to a common opponent
Aleksander Ceferin is confirmed in his office as Uefa President unopposed. He uses the stage to address sharp words to the drivers of a possible Super League. Ceferin reiterates its warning to breakaway clubs.
Bernd Neuendorf gave Hans-Joachim Watzke a congratulatory pat on the shoulder and, after his own successful election, waved happily in the direction of Uefa boss Aleksander Ceferin. After the two top German officials had listened to Ceferin’s sharp warning of a Super League, they rose to the international decision-making circles at the European Football Union Congress in Lisbon with applause. “An important signal,” said DFB President Neuendorf after his appointment to the council of the world association Fifa.
Both spoke of “humility” in the new offices with different challenges. Neuendorf also has to deal with Fifa President Gianni Infantino for the benefit of Germany’s application for the 2027 Women’s World Cup, Watzke wants to concentrate in particular on the financial “excesses” in European club football. “We should keep a close eye on it,” said the DFL supervisory board chairman.
With the exception of the election of the Englishwoman Debbie Hewitt as British FIFA Vice President – she was the first woman to prevail against a man in a Uefa election – the congress remained, as expected, a man’s affair. The Norwegian Lise Klaveness, who had distinguished herself as a critical voice in world football, missed entering the Uefa Exko.
He had already wished for “a bit more women,” said Neuendorf. “But the election is over and now you have to deal with it.” Ceferin referred to a democratic election – and appointed Welsh Laura McAllister to be his deputy. She will be the first Uefa vice president in history.
Ceferin: Super League is “Wolf Disguised as Grandmother”
Shortly before his re-election as head of the continental association by acclamation, Ceferin swore in all European representatives in the Centro de Congressos to fight against a common adversary. “In just a few months, the Super League has transformed into a character from Little Red Riding Hood: a wolf disguised as a grandmother, ready to eat you,” said the 55-year-old in the hall at the foot of the iconic April 25 Bridge. “But no one is fooled.”
The founders of the once failed Super League – FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus Turin – are currently making a new attempt to establish a product that competes with the Uefa competitions. The European Court of Justice is also involved, which continues to examine whether the Uefa model is compatible with EU law. Ceferin spoke of “cynicism against morality. Selfishness versus Solidarity. Greed versus Benevolence” and thanked Europe’s governments for their support.
He reiterated his warning to potentially defecting clubs: “Anyone who wants to host their own competition can do so. But then he can no longer take part in our competitions,” emphasized Ceferin.
Just like Fifa President Gianni Infantino three weeks ago at the congress of the world association in Kigali, Ceferin did not have to face any opposition candidates for his own re-election and is now entering his third term. “It means a lot to me. It’s a great honor, but above all it’s a great, great responsibility,” he said. More than an hour after the delegates’ 35-second applause for the Slovene, Neuendorf and Watzke were also appointed by acclamation.
German football wants to put time of discontinuity behind it
The two top German functionaries are each completing the last two years of their predecessors’ terms of office, who had withdrawn from their posts in coordination with the German Football Association. Rainer Koch was previously on the Uefa executive, Peter Peters on the Fifa Council. After turbulent years with withdrawals and resignations of top personnel, German football wants to put the period of inconsistency on the international stage behind it.
At the World Cup in Qatar at the end of 2022, there was clear disagreement between the DFB and Fifa President Gianni Infantino, Neuendorf had spoken of “opposition to Fifa”, to which Klaveness also belongs. At the Fifa Congress, the DFB also refused to support the Swiss in his re-election. One point of criticism from the German association was recently Fifa’s information policy – including on human rights issues.
Alongside Karl-Heinz Rummenigge, Watzke is the second German official on the UEFA Executive Committee. The former CEO of FC Bayern sits on the committee as a representative of the European Club Association ECA. Watzke, who is also CEO of Borussia Dortmund, announced that he would give up his seat on the ECA board at the ECA elections in September at the latest. If it were up to him, “rather,” he said.