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The Italian Media Are Looking Into Čeferin’s Qualifications

On Friday, the 2nd of September 2016, the FIFA Audit Board confirmed that all three then-candidates for UEFA President fit the criteria for the candidacy. Aleksander Čeferin, Michael van Praag and Ángel María Villar Llona were in the running for the prestigious post. Of the three candidates, only Čeferin is likely to have been proven to have lied on his CV. Journalist Luka Perš recently spoke to Italy’s Tuttosport about Čeferin’s lies.

The Prava journalist first spoke about the origin of the story. Čeferin’s false allegations were first published by the Norwegian portal Josimar Football, which primarily focuses on football improprieties. Luka Perš then took the initiative: “Čeferin’s CV, published on the websites of the UEFA and the Football Association of Slovenia (Nogometna zveza Slovenije – NZS) bodies, claims that he was a member of football clubs – in order to fulfil the conditions for joining UEFA. I have requested the minutes of the general assemblies of Football Club Olimpija Ljubljana and Football Club Litija, the clubs he mentioned in the list of his professional experience. And the examination of the minutes of the Ljubljana football club, in particular the ones between 2006 and 2011, shows that Čeferin held no office during this period: I have the official documents, so it is more than obvious that he is lying.”

The “Čeferin” affair is an affair that should have crushed European football – but never did. As in the case of the former President of the Supreme Court of Slovenia, Branko Masleša, Čeferin cannot prove that he fulfilled the necessary conditions to be elected President of the Football Association of Slovenia. If he had not become President of the said Association, he would not have had the necessary credentials to later become the President of the Union of European Football Associations.

Documents from Litija do not exist

Perš then explained that he has not been able to obtain any documents from Litija, as the club supposedly does not have them. However, the then-President of the football club allegedly told Norway’s Josimar that Čeferin had never held any position in the club.

Lying without consequences

Tuttosport then asked Perš what the consequences were after his revelations. Perš replied that the Football Association of Slovenia has never taken any action or reacted to the public revelations. “Which is also understandable, since it is chaired by Radenko Mijatovic, a personal friend of Čeferin’s,” the journalist explained, adding that there has been no response to the serious (and proven) allegations, not even by the UEFA.

The mainstream media chose a similar path. They ignored the lies of the former President of the Football Association of Slovenia, even though lying on a CV is a serious blow to the credibility of any individual. In Čeferin’s case, it is even worse, because he did not actually fulfil the conditions required to run for such a high office as first the President of the Football Association of Slovenia, and later as the President of UEFA.

“Čeferin is one of Slovenia’s most influential lawyers: the mainstream media adore him and hardly ever report any criticism of him. I myself am proud to have a Slovenian in the position of the UEFA President, but the lies about his experience at the Football Club Olimpija are too strong. For me, this is one of the biggest scandals in European football. I don’t know if it was deliberately hidden from the other UEFA members, but I think they should demand his resignation as President,” Perš explained.

When asked whether any new developments are expected regarding Čeferin’s lying, Perš replied that more would soon be happening in relation to Čeferin, if not because of the lying, then because of the other scandals. He mentioned, for example, the suspicious allocation of UEFA credits to the Football Association of Slovenia, when the said Association allegedly invested the money in the purchase of an ownership stake in the Sports Lottery bookmaker instead of in development programmes.

Tuttosport is one of Italy’s largest sports media outlets. In fact, it is the third largest –after La Gazzetta dello Sport and Corriere dello Sport, and it is available to the Italian public three times a week. The bulk of the newspaper is devoted to football, with a particular focus on Juventus and Torino.

The Football Association of Slovenia wants to sell its stake

The Football Association of Slovenia has been appearing in the media quite often these days, mainly in connection with its plans to sell the Sports Lottery of Slovenia. This is a monopolist on the sports betting market, on which the Sports Foundation is financially dependent, and it is thus understandably strongly opposed to the sale. The sale is supposedly being prepared behind the scenes by the Olympic Committee, the Slovenian Ski Association and the Football Association of Slovenia.

The Foundation for Sport (Fundacija za šport – FŠO) has sent a letter to the state authorities and the public, expressing its strong opposition to the sale of the Sports Lottery to a foreign corporation. The Olympic Committee, the Ski Association and the Football Association, which together form the majority owners of the Sports Lottery, are reportedly secretly negotiating the sale of their ownership stakes. Members of the Slovenian Democratic Party (Slovenska demokratska stranka – SDS) recently requested that a meeting of the Committee on Finance be convened to discuss the sale.

Gal Kovač

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