Football boss throws in the towel

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Yngve Hallén lasted six years as president of Norway’s national football federation (NFF). Now he’s looking for a new job, after announcing over the weekend that he won’t stand for re-election this spring.

NOT SMILING NOW: Yngve Hallén vigorously denies claims in a new book that he's engaged in corruption, and is threatening legal action against the book's author. PHOTO: Wikipedia

Yngve Hallén has decided not to run for another term as president of Norway’s football federation, NFF. PHOTO: Wikipedia

His resignation was not entirely unexpected. Hallén has been the target of strong criticism over a string of football troubles in recent years. He was held largely responsible for the undignified manner in which Norway’s sports bureaucrats handled the replacement of the popular Egil “Drillo” Olsen as coach of the men’s national football team. He was pilloried over the disputed agreement regarding rights to broadcast football on TV in Norway, the sport has run into serious economic trouble during his tenure and he’s been accused of being far too weak in the scandal around international football federation FIFA. His efforts to bring back the “glory days” of Norwegian football failed.

His fortunes weren’t buoyed when Norway failed once again to qualify for the European Championships. The 47-year-old Hallén has also been considered both arrogant and power-hungry, with some sports leaders claiming he spread a culture of fear within Norwegian football. That’s not so unusual among sports leaders, and Hallén’s defenders call much of the criticism unfair, including Hallén himself.

“It can be tough to stand in the middle of the storm and sometimes the criticism has felt unfair and without nuance,” Hallén said in his press statement. “At the same time, there are of course things we could and should have done differently. As football president, you have to be prepared to face tough criticism. It’s part of the job.”

He mused about whether the job would have been easier with Norway heading for the championships, and concluded it would have been. “But that would not have allowed any more time with the family,” Hallén said. “That’s why I won’t seek re-election.”

Commentators claimed that the standard resignation phrases about being tired and wanting to spend more time with family often aren’t believed, but Aftenposten noted that the round-the-clock pressure, travel and critics clearly take a toll. Hallén’s resignation, wrote commentator Ola Bernhus, was likely a combination of a string of problems, rather than any one big blunder or scandal.

The leader of the football federation’s elections committee will now hunt for a new candidate to take over for Hallén, with a candidate to be announced early next year. His replacement will need to take over in the spring.

newsinenglish.no/Nina Berglund