By Tony Attwood
We recently ran the article: Do Uefa need a new Gazprom which suggested that given that the west is dramatically cutting its gas purchases from Russia, Gazprom’s sponsorship looks both inappropriate and financially unviable.
Indeed Gazprom (based in Putin’s home town) has been the sponsor of the European Championship, the Nations League, the Futsal Championship, and on and on and on, donating about €40 million per season to Uefa.
That’s a worry for Uefa, as we have said, given that it is still fighting Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus in the European Court of Justice. This final round of hearings began in July, although you won’t be able to find anything about it in the English media.
As the Telegraph said “If the EU is to back Uefa, it will expect Uefa to follow its lead on Russia.”
But now Uefa itself is under attack, following the near-universal feeling that not only was Uefa’s handling of the Champions League final inept in the extreme but also that the supposedly independent enquiry into the affair, was packed with allies and friends of Uefa president Aleksander Ceferin.
It is a story on which, I am rather pleased to say, Untold took the lead, coming up with information that others were not publishing, as when we ran How Uefa and PSG have taken control, and fooled all of football
Now the Guardian is taking up the tale – a little late in the day, but nonetheless welcome, with its piece headlined Concerns raised over state of Uefa amid cronyism claims. No acknowledgement to Untold for pulling the bits together about Uefa, Ceferin, PSG and Arabian money, but then, we wouldn’t expect it.
Their piece talks of “a nightmarish mess of calamitous planning, disorganisation, brutal French policing and crime in the deprived Saint-Denis area” as normal, but now adds “closer scrutiny has since turned on the performance of Uefa itself under its president, the Slovenian lawyer Aleksander Ceferin” including “the appointment last year of Ceferin’s best friend, Zeljko Pavlica, as Uefa’s head of safety and security” with “no formal recruitment process”
And now finally Uefa is being described as “a culture in which the president’s personal alliances are increasingly significant.”
To understand what is going on we must go back to the time about three years ago when Uefa put out a statement which says that match fixing is growing at such an alarming rate they cannot cope with the problem on their own.
That got very little coverage in the British press because the British press will not acknowledge that there is such a thing as match-fixing. This decision had the impact of turning the British media away from Uefa and so it has taken until now for them to notice that those running Uefa such as Luka Zajc, was a partner in Ceferin’s law firm.
Another appointment missed at the time but being talked about now because of the problems at the champions league final, was Zeljko Pavlica, a close friend of Ceferin, who became Uefa’s head of safety and security.
The English media also failed to pick up on the background to the failure of Uefa successfully to prosecute Manchester City over the FFP breaches. This was due to Uefa failing to present the case fast enough – it was lost not on the merits of the case, but due to Uefa’s slowness.
What happened then was the various members of the Club Financial Control Body resigned over this ludicrous cock-up and were replaced immediately by Cerferin’s chums who are clearly not interested in sorting out FFP issues – which is a major reason why Saudi Arabia was able to take over Newcastle United, knowing that FFP would not be an issue as they started spending. Virtually all new members of CFCB are reported to be close allies of Ceferin, which effectively undermines its independence.
This information about Uefa becoming nothing more than a bunch of Cerferin’s mates behaving as they wish, is very slowly reaching the English media, but this is being done without any back reference to Uefa’s fight with the idea of the Super League.
Thus virtually no one will note that Cerferin is a close friend of the owner of PSG who is also a major owner of beIN Sports which holds the rights to the Champions League TV across a multiplicity of countries.
In fact it is reasonable to suggest that Uefa and PSG together orchestrated the notion that Super League was a bad thing and the UK media lapped it up. The fact that there was an alternative point of view (that Uefa was corrupt, inept and unfit for purpose and the clubs running their own competition would be a way to avoid all this corruption) was never heard, perhaps because that view leads to an enquiry into how it was that Manchester City walked away from its FFP charges after Uefa (some might say deliberately) cocked up the process and left the case lingering for too long.
That the British media was happy to follow the Uefa / PSG line that Super League was, without doubt, an abomination, without contemplating whether Uefa had become an abomination is part of the tragedy of football reporting in the UK. But as we get toward the final appeal hearing it may just be that a little more about the way Uefa has become nothing more than a Slovenian power base for one family and its close mates, is now discussed.
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