UEFA election hit by claims of logrolling
Photo: Alberto Sanchez Fernandez/Flickr
07.09.2016By Stine Alvad
In the beginning of June this year, the football federations of Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland issued a statement announcing the support of the Slovenian candidate running for the seat as UEFA president, Aleksander Čeferin.
According to an investigation carried out by the Norwegian football magazine, Josimar, this Nordic endorsement was partly based on promises of hosting rights for the EURO 2024 or EURO 2028 and a seat on the UEFA board to Swedish FA chairman Karl-Erik Nilsson. Josimar further claims that the then secretary general in the Norwegian Football federation, Kjetil Siem, at the time soon to be FIFA Director of Strategy in Gianni Infantino’s new FIFA management, had expressed his support for Čeferin at a meeting and hinted that this was also the preferred candidate of the FIFA president.
The Slovenian candidate allegedly has close ties to the FIFA administration as well as to Russia, writes Josimar, quoting sources saying that Slovenian Tomaz Vesel, appointed to head the FIFA Audit and Compliance Committee after Domenico Scala left the post, was in fact proposed by Čeferin. The two compatriots have allegedly known each other for a long time.
Čeferin is also well connected in Russia, writes Josimar and further speculates that Čeferin could have "been chosen as part of Gianni Infantino’s plan to strengthen his relationship with Russia, which in turn is part of Russia’s plan to silence potential critics before Russia is due to host the World Cup", writes Josimar, who have found sources claiming that Russia has been "a driving force behind Čeferin’s candidacy”.
"It was important for Russia that other countries rallied behind Čeferin before the Russians endorsed him. A source inside FIFA tells Josimar that it was imperative that "the highly regarded democratic Nordic countries were the first to endorse him"," writes Josimar.
‘Back to old-school business’
Vying UEFA candidate from the Netherlands, Michael van Praag reacted to the article by sending out the following statement on Twitter:
"I am shocked after reading this information [the article in Josimar, ed.]. If it is true, than we are back to the old-school way of doing business in the football world. That is exactly what I want to change. We need an honest football leader. No power hungry politician. Someone you can trust with football."
Van Praag will be able to make further points when he and Čeferin meet in on 8 September in Copenhagen to present their candidacies to the Nordic FAs.
"Of course, nothing has been promised to us," says Danish FA chairman Jesper Møller to Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet, commenting on the allegations in Josimar. “It does not work like that.”
“We have supported the candidacy of Čeferin because he shares the same values as us in many areas. […] Now, he will come to Copenhagen on Thursday (…) and then we will have to ask him the necessary questions. Then, we will decide to whom we give our vote in Athens,” said Møller.
Čeferin himself has dismissed the allegations that he has made promises in return for the Nordic support, and calls them "ridiculous".
"This is a completely ridiculous accusation. These decisions will be taken by the old exco, how can I influence that? I had never heard that (of the Nordic Euros bid), it never came up in conversation. I read in a newspaper that they wanted to run," he said to insidethegames.com.
"It is an insulting accusation to us both," Čeferin continued about offering a UEFA exco seat to the Norwegian FA chairman. "How can I promise something I can’t deliver?"
UEFA will be electing a new president on September 14 at an extraordinary congress in Athens, Greece.
Read the Josimar report: