James Dostoyevsky: The King says he’s going soon. Let the run for his clothes begin

The 48th UEFA Congress in Paris on February 8 turned truly interesting after it was over.

Towards the end, when the Congress was re-voting on term limits that had acutally been approved in 2017, European football’s hillbillies played their frenetic banjo tunes much like in ‘Deliverance’ (a remarkable movie) seemingly oblivious of Swiss Law which stipulates: no statute change can be valid retroactively. A surprise? Probably not.

The English FA once again stuck out like the proverbial sore thumb in a European desert and steadfastly raised their red card to protest something that was neither new, controversial and barely close to the big sports integrity issues facing the European (and world) game – and you would have thought someone might have advised them on the law.

Clearly a bulk of media colleagues weren’t aware of it either, or hadn’t bothered to read the minutes of the 2017 UEFA Congress, where the very same term limits had been accepted (three terms max for ExCo Members and President), only to be tampered with by an as yet undisclosed UEFA apparatchik who disliked what was decided and added a commentary in 2018 that had not been voted on – rendering the clause unlawful.

Hence the need to vote again arose. And the need for the morally righteous to play their “holier-than-thou” red card  and be (similar to the ones who tried to sweet-talk a Caribbean footie chief into supporting the English bid for 2018 by dispatching poor out-classed Becks to the Caribbean, hoping it would clinch it) decided that it was time to show a red card and be ‘impohtant’.

It was another lonely and isolating experience for them. What are we to take from this. Are they saying that everybody but the English are corrupt or that everybody but the English are legally disabled?

Whatever the excitement pre-Congress may have been, it quickly turned into “fuck-me-I didn’t- see-that-one-coming” at the post-Congress media briefing – Ceferin announced that he wasn’t planning to run in 2027. Ouch.

Somewhat “hysterical” media comment about doomsday coming (the Brits have a whole book on it) was suddenly rendered hysterically amusing. No apocalypse after all.

The term limits were confirmed – it was always about legal confirmation of what had been decided by the Congress in 2017, and not about changes that would allow Ceferin to stand for election after his present term is over.

But Ceferin has apparently had enough, and is looking to a more peaceful future elsewhere, outside UEFA. Bubble burst.

But, but…I hear and see on X already. Although the ‘but, but’ is a little limp. The King will be gone, so it seems, and the hunt for his clothes is on. That’s how things go. The next King will have an uphill struggle to do much better than his predecessor. Because other than earning the obligatory disdain from the Anglo-Saxons (they did get a couple of Euros awarded to them during his presidency – they seem to have forgotten that), he’s done pretty damned well. Like it or not. There is an English expression: ‘You don’t c**p on your own doorstep’. Some people still do though.

James Dostoyevsky was a Washington-based author until the end of 2018, where he reported on sports politics and socio-cultural topics. He returned to Europe in 2019 and continues to follow football politics – presently with an emphasis on the Middle East, Europe and Africa.