Serbia’s Dirty Politics Thwart Manchester Legend’s Clean-up Plan

Chelsea's Fernando Torres back) in action against Manchester United's Nemanja Vidic (front) during the English Premier League soccer match between Chelsea FC and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge in London, Britain, 19 January 2014. EPA/GERRY PENNY

Despite being one of the best defenders in football history, Vidic could not fend off the joint attacks coming from all flanks - both from within football and the political establishment.

Vidic, 41, pulled out of the race days before the March 15 election, saying the pressures were too high and that delegates were telling him they cannot vote for him because they had been told not to.

Dzajic won with 77 votes out of 78, and Nedimovic, former Agriculture Minister, became his vice-president. The only delegate who did not vote for Dzajic was Mirko Poledica, president of the Footballers Union.

Talking about the atmosphere at the Assembly, Poledica told BIRN, ironically: "The atmosphere was very nice because privileges were being defended, which is much more important to many than who will be the president."

After Dzajic was elected, Poledica, who has for years talked about the problems in Serbian football, told him directly that this triumph was also his biggest defeat.

"I am sure that 90 per cent of the delegates were only implementing [ruling] party demands considering that most of the delegates are directly or indirectly associated with various political parties. Informally, everyone supported Vidic, but formally they voted for their interests," Poledica said, calling them "button-delegates".

Mirko Poledica, president of the Serbia's Footballers Union. Photo: Printscreen/N1 TV

After Vidic retired in 2016, the centre-back finished coaching studies with...

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