European Commissioner welcomes UEFA reforms

The European Commissioner for education, culture, youth and sport, Tibor Navracsics, has expressed satisfaction that UEFA is committed to embedding good governance in its activities.

Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for education, culture, youth and sport, speaks at the UEFA Congress in Helsinki
Tibor Navracsics, European Commissioner for education, culture, youth and sport, speaks at the UEFA Congress in Helsinki ©UEFA

The European Commissioner for education, culture, youth and sport, Tibor Navracsics, has welcomed UEFA’s good governance reforms, approved at Wednesday’s UEFA Congress in Helsinki.

Speaking to the Congress, Mr Navracsics said that he was glad that UEFA was fully committed to fostering good governance. He expressed the view that governance “needs to become part of the DNA of sport organisations, big and small.”

“We have all seen how failures in governance have tarnished the image of sport,” the Commissioner said. “Football has been particularly vulnerable, although it is by no means the only sport affected. It is due to its huge popularity that football is under even closer scrutiny.”

Mr Navracsics said he was happy that UEFA’s national associations had elected Aleksander Čeferin as UEFA President last September, on the basis of a programme strongly focusing on good governance.

“I was also pleased that UEFA signed up to the declaration I launched last September urging all sport federations and organisations, in the EU and beyond, to embed the culture of good governance in their activities.”

“Now I am glad to see that UEFA is taking these commitments seriously,” he added.

Aleksander Čeferin and Tibor Navracsics
Aleksander Čeferin and Tibor Navracsics©UEFA

”Transparency, accountability and stakeholder involvement are the backbone of good governance principles.”

“Sport must regain people's trust to keep its place at the heart of our societies.”

The Commissioner emphasised that UEFA and the European Commission shared common objectives in a broad range of areas. A formal Arrangement for Cooperation [signed in 2014] covers various topics including financial fair play, match-fixing and third-party ownership.

Mr Navracsics reflected that football can be much more than entertainment or a passion. He underlined the power of sport and football in bringing people together, promoting social inclusion and the values of fair play, solidarity and mutual respect.

“Both UEFA and the Commission are aware of this power, and this is indeed an area where we could increase our cooperation,” he said.

Mr Navracsics said that the two organisations shared many values and aspirations – “the integrity of sport, respect for human rights and dignity, non-discrimination and solidarity.”

He also welcomed the work that UEFA was undertaking to nurture football’s grassroots – including the UEFA Grassroots Week, held each September, and aligned with the European Commission’s European Week of Sport which promotes sport and physical activity across the continent.

“I know how active UEFA is in these fields,” he said, “and its campaigns against racism and violence have been particularly important. Football has the power to reach out to large sectors of society in a way that politicians and governments simply cannot.”