How The Super League Debacle Made Janez Janša Unhappy (And Why He Shouldn’t Be)

In the larger scale of things, Janez Janša’s reaction to the drama that was the Super League debacle is not really important. In fact, Janez Janša’s reaction to, well, anything these days is not really important, as the man was relegated (pun very much intended) to the also-ran category of European politics. That said, with the Super League drama being the talk of the continent, everyone who’s anyone chimed in.

Image of Janez Janša playing football in 2007, 13 years prior the European Super League controversy.
Marshal Twito playing football in 2007 (source)

However in contrast to other European leaders, especially those of populist persuasion (see: Johnson, Boris; Macron, Emmanuel; Órban, Viktor), the Glorious Leader started his wild 72-hour ride with a tacit approval of the Super League monstrosity. This was done less out of his love for runaway capitalist mayhem than out of his fear of UEFA chief Aleksander Čeferin entering the political fray in Muddy Hollows.

Lately, Čeferin’s name is liberally tossed around as a potential nominee to replace the term-limited president Pahor, who will reach the end of the line late next year. But the UEFA boss has also been billed a figure around which the badly splintered centre-left parties could rally and form a viable alternative to the beleaguered and increasingly isolated Janša government.

And if there is one thing Marshal Twito can’t stand, is a potential challenger. Just ask Karl Erjavec.

Jack Ma makes Janša love Čeferin

The relationship between Aleksander Čeferin and Janez Janša is, well, complicated. It was slightly more than a year ago, during the global dash for PPEs when Janša couldn’t hug the UEFA president tight enough.

Back then, Čeferin apparently made a couple of calls to Alibaba’s Jack Ma who in turn made a couple of hundred thousand face masks magically appear in Slovenia. Or so it seemed at the time.

Mere weeks later, when Čeferin started taking credit by himself (rather than being graciously commended by the Glorious Leader), the relationship turned sour. Doubly so when UEFA president mildly criticised the way the government was handling the pandemic and gave a few non-committal answers to questions about his entering Slovenian politics.

Tweets that age badly

And by “turned sour” pengovsky means “releasing the propaganda attack dogs”, warts and all. Bad English included. Case in point: Demokracija magazine, a Hungarian-owned SDS mouthpiece, literally accused Čeferin of causing the Bergamo superspreader event despite the game being played days before the first Covid-19 case was detected in Italy.

Things only went downhill from there. For a year now, Janša and Čeferin are engaged in running skirmishes, usually by ways of UEFA honcho giving a somewhat cryptic interview rife with non-denial denials about his political ambitions, followed by the Glorious Leader and his minions losing their shit on social media.

It’s almost like Monty Python’s French taunting. No wonder the Glorious Leader was keen to see UEFA breaking apart when news of the European Super League broke.

“An organisation led by the arrogance of ‘please refer to my previous answer’ will sooner or later disintegrate”

Well, that aged badly. Parallels with Janša’s Twitter meltdown over calling the US presidential race for Donald Trump will now be entertained.

The Grosuplje Connection

It needs to be said that the Čeferin-Janša spat did not start with Jack Ma.

Aleksander Čeferin is the heir-apparent of the powerful Čeferin lawyer family and has for a long time represented Janša’s (former?) arch-enemy, Ljubljana mayor Zoran Janković and his two sons.

It was there where the infamous non-aswer-turned-meme “please refer to my previous answer” was born. That was the line of defence Čeferin fed to Janković’s son Jure during a 2010 parliamentary hearing and while it may have made for bad optics back then, it sure made for good lawyering.

As a by-product of representing Janković and his sons, Aleksander Čeferin grew a giant target on his back. And that target grew only bigger when, adding insult to injury, his older brother Rok Čeferin, also an accomplished lawyer, was appointed judge at the Slovenian constitutional court.

And just to illustrate how in Muddy Hollows not just news and politics are local, long-running feuds are, as well.

Namely, both Janša and Čeferin hail from Grosuplje, a satellite town just south of Ljubljana. What are the odds?

Shifting gears

And when the European Super League crumbled to sun dust, Janša found himself on the wrong side of two interwoven arguments. On one hand, he had declared Čeferin’s complete and utter defeat prematurely. On the other, he was suddenly out of lockstep with his fellow populist leaders, notably the Hungarian Óverlord.

As a result, Team Janša was forced into rapid gear shifting, suddenly claiming that Čeferin had nothing to do with any of this and that it was purely enraged fans who made the twelve clubs to back down.

There is, of course, a sliver of truth in there. If the fans had gotten along with the plan, Čeferin could arguably go stand on his head and still be powerless. But by the time Marshal Twito and his ilk managed to correct the course, the narrative had already been set.

This narrative was helped by the media frenzy back home the UEFA boss was more than happy to entertain. So, as far as Muddy Hollows and its general public are concerned, Čeferin roundhouse kicked European Super League’s ass and sent it packing.

Wrong choices

PM Janša should be ecstatic with this turn of events. Not in the least beacuse this means there is still a chance Hugarian Óverlord’s “investment” into FC Nafta Lendava can generate some actual revenue.

But more importantly, as long as Aleksander Čeferin can run the table on European football, so long the chances of him actually joining the political fray in Muddy Hollows remain infinitesimal.

But, just as Janez Janša can not stand challengers, so he can not stand other people winning. Instead, he will do everything to make it appear as if everyone else is a loser, even it it means undermining his own position. Does that remind you of someone?

You see, the moment Aleksander Čeferin starts losing ground in UEFA will – in all likelyhood – be the moment he will parachute into domestic politics, likely successfully.

Therefore, in a cruel twist of irony, the more Janša keeps attacking Čeferin, the more he in fact helping to build his image in Muddy Hollows by reiterating the current “badass Aleksander” narrative. At the same time, every attack also makes it more likely that Čeferin will in fact run for a high office in Slovenia, sooner rather than later.

Football is a team sport

Janez Janša is, or at least was, an avid football player. But while he usually played as forward, he would do well to remember that like politics, football is a team sport. And in team sports you need to play defence as well. Not to mention that is sometimes pays to simply keep the possession of the ball and play for time.

This is a lesson Marshal Twito seems to have forgotten. In politics at least. No idea how his football is these days, though.

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Agent provocateur and an occasional scribe.

2 thoughts on “How The Super League Debacle Made Janez Janša Unhappy (And Why He Shouldn’t Be)”

  1. I remember a column in Mladina from eons ago, I think it was from Blaž Ogorevc (the other suspect is EHM). where he portrayed the glorious leader as at that time still young amateur football player playing at the paper’s picnics with a political career still ahead of him.

    What I remember from that article and memory is a very unreliable thing, mine double so, is that it was not the odd offense that was odd, it was the defense, where the qualities of the future glorious leader came forth and where no legs and no bones were spared. Ever No matter the opponent and no matter the actual danger of the opponnent scoring an actual point.

    If someone could come up with the actual article I’d very much appreciate it.

  2. Long after the Biščak tweet but it’s wotth noting the Bergamo superspreader event – which involved a team from Bergamo (Atalanta) – not only happened before cases had been detected in Europe but also took place in Milan.

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