Croatia great Boban back in soccer politics as UEFA adviser

·2 min read

GENEVA — Former Croatia and AC Milan great Zvonimir Boban is returning to top-level soccer politics as an adviser to UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin.

UEFA confirmed the hiring Friday of the one-time close aide to FIFA President Gianni Infantino. Ceferin and Infantino have had often tense working relations since both were first elected in 2016.

Boban left FIFA in June 2019 after three years as its deputy secretary general for soccer issues to return to Milan as the club’s “chief football officer.”

He left after less than a year, reportedly in the crossfire of internal politics at the American-owned club.

Boban joins UEFA at an intriguing time in its relations with Europe’s most influential clubs, including Milan, over running the Champions League.

At FIFA, he lobbied some of those same clubs to win support for an expanded Club World Cup, which UEFA viewed as a threat to the Champions League. A 24-team Club World Cup was set to launch in China this year but was postponed without new dates due to the pandemic.

UEFA also faces a diplomatic challenge to secure hosting rights to the 2030 World Cup for Europe.

FIFA wants to make the decision in 2024 with more than 200 member federations eligible to vote.

Ceferin wants UEFA to unite around a single candidate and a joint Spain-Portugal project currently looks favoured . A British and Irish combined bid is also being considered.

China and a South American centenary bid including Uruguay, the original World Cup host in 1930, are potential opponents for Europe.

A stylish midfield player, Boban helped Croatia reach the 1998 World Cup semifinals and won a Champions League title with Milan in 1994.

UEFA is expected to unveil its new signing at the annual congress of 55 member federations on Tuesday in Montreux, Switzerland. Infantino is also scheduled to attend.

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Graham Dunbar, The Associated Press