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Aleksander Čerferin elected as 7th UEFA president


Aleksander Čerferin elected as 7th UEFA president

New president of European football sets out his vision for a modern governing body.

On 14 September 2016, European football’s governing body, UEFA, elected Aleksander Čerferin of Slovenia as the organisation’s 7th president. Čerferin takes over from Michel Platini, a European Cup winner and European Footballer of the Year during his playing days. It was Platini who established the UEFA Foundation for Children in 2015. The foundation promotes the use of sport in projects around the world to improve the lives of young people through education, health and integration programmes. It complements UEFA’s Football Social Responsibility programme which has promoted key strategic aims (antidiscrimination and diversity, social integration and reconciliation, active and healthy lifestyles, implementing football for everyone and contributing to environmental sustainability) through partnerships for many years.

What does this change of leadership mean for the social responsibility of European football?

In his manifesto, Čerferin, a lawyer and president of the Football Association of Slovenia, vowed to use football to create a better world . His ambition is to make UEFA the best sports organisation in the world, and in setting out his vision he is not solely concerned with the development of the professional side of the game.

He wants UEFA to: create a leading grassroots programme; have the best social responsibility and sustainability programme; have an ambitious diversity and gender equality programme, and ensure that football remains a sport that is accessible to everyone.

Creating an inclusive organisation means bringing the football community together. The UEFA Foundation for Children will develop programmes to promote an inclusive and diverse society, ensuring those from minority populations can find their place on and off the pitch. It is Čerferin’s intention to promote the development of young talent off the pitch. He will encourage member associations to create scholarship and internship opportunities, promoting the personal development of young people involved with football. The manifesto sets-out an ambition to grow the women’s game and increase participation across Europe, ensuring gender equality continues to be integral to the development of a modern sports organisation. As well as improving participation in women’s football, Čerferin also wants to promote general participation through grassroots programmes, meaning more young people can experience the health and social benefits of sport.

Čerferin wants to build an organisation that is transparent and socially responsible, through the development of a long-term social responsibility strategy. UEFA and the UEFA Foundation for Children already have a number of partnerships with NGOs internationally, and Čerferin wants to increase the visibility of UEFA within the world of corporate social responsibility. There is a commitment to implementing a strategy that will increase accountability for UEFA tournaments in areas such as social and environmental legacy and sustainability management; as well as an improved commitment to sustainable development.

Aleksander Čerferin recognises that football, despite negative media attention in recent years, has the ability to reach and engage people from the most marginalised populations. The power of football should not be underestimated. Hopefully the strategy set out by Čerferin will build on the momentum gained through UEFA’s Football Social Responsibility programme and the establishment of the Foundation for Children while encouraging clubs and national associations to develop their own strategies.


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Neil Rankin


Sunday, September 18, 2016 - 23:00