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Ceferin poised for new term as UEFA president

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin. Photo: Adrian Dennis/AFP

Aleksander Ceferin stands unopposed for a new term as president of UEFA when European football’s governing body meets in Lisbon on Wednesday.

The 55-year-old Slovenian lawyer, elected in 2016 following the downfall of Frenchman Michel Platini, is therefore assured of a further four years in the role despite a turbulent second term overshadowed by the breakaway European Super League project.

The UEFA Congress in the Portuguese capital comes just a few weeks after Gianni Infantino was re-elected as president of FIFA, also unopposed.

Ceferin has had his differences with Infantino, with the UEFA chief notably one of the main voices against FIFA’s proposals to host the World Cup every two years instead of the current four.

That idea has been abandoned by Infantino, but the European Super League is not dead and buried, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus continuing to pursue the project.

A lawsuit has been launched against UEFA and FIFA at the European Court of Justice, accusing the governing bodies of abusing their power by threatening to expel clubs and players interested in joining a breakaway league.

A final ruling is expected in the coming weeks, although the court’s advocate general, whose opinions are often followed by judges, provided a first ruling favourable to UEFA in December.

Assuming that decision goes UEFA’s way, Ceferin will be able to focus on pursuing the planned introduction of new Financial Fair Play rules, which will see clubs forced to limit spending on player and staff wages, transfers and agents fees to 70 percent of total revenues by 2025/26.

He will also oversee the introduction of a new format for the UEFA Champions League starting in 2024, which will see the so-called “Swiss system” model adopted for a group stage featuring 36 clubs, up from the current 32.

Ceferin, who has also recently hinted at softening rules that currently prevent clubs with the same owners facing each other in European competitions, can expect to face questions on these issues when he speaks to the press following Wednesday’s meeting.

He may also be asked about the refereeing scandal involving Barcelona that could have serious implications for the Catalan club and for La Liga.

“The situation is extremely serious. So serious that, in my view, it is one of the most serious cases in football since I have been involved in it,” Ceferin told the Slovenian daily Ekipa on Monday.

Belarus will also be on the agenda, with the country in danger of being excluded from UEFA competitions due to its support of Russia’s ongoing war in Ukraine.

Russia was expelled from all club and international competitions by UEFA last year following the invasion, but Belarus is involved in the qualifiers for Euro 2024, which it began with defeats against Switzerland and Romania last month.

In mid-March more than a hundred EU lawmakers called on UEFA to expel Belarus too.

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