Top FIFA official Boban leaving to join AC Milan

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FIFA presidential adviser Zvonimir Boban is returning to the club closest to his heart, AC Milan, as its chief football officer.

Boban, the deputy secretary general with responsibility for soccer issues, is leaving within days, FIFA said on Friday announcing the news.

Boban teams up again with club icon Paolo Maldini, the newly appointed technical director with whom he won four Serie A titles and the 1994 Champions League at Milan.

“When Paolo called me to check on my availability, I jumped into my car and went to his home in Milan in the middle of the night,” Boban said in a statement issued by Milan.

They rejoin Milan at a low point for the seven-time European champion, where Boban was an elegant midfielder during a decade at San Siro after playing for Dinamo Zagreb.

Milan finished sixth in Serie A this season, extending its failure to qualify for the Champions League to six years.

UEFA is investigating Milan’s finances and has threatened the club with a one-season ban from European competitions if it fails to meet targets by June 2021.

In a FIFA statement, the 50-year-old Croatian called AC Milan his family, and the city and Italy his home. “I have a burning desire to help this glorious club, which means so much to me, to return where it belongs,” Boban said.

He leaves FIFA within days of Gianni Infantino being re-elected as president for a fresh four-year term.

At the election in Paris last week, Boban told reporters he was approached by Infantino to be an aide days after his campaign began in October 2015.

“Although he is an ‘Interista’,” Boban said on Friday of Inter Milan fan Infantino, “(he) has been a true friend and has understood that this was a call similar to the one I got three years ago. Impossible to say ‘no’.”

At FIFA, Boban helped to steer the introduction of video review to help referees at the 2018 World Cup in Russia, and lobbied top European clubs to support a reform of FIFA’s Club World Cup.

FIFA said Boban will join Infantino on Saturday in Poland at the final of the Under-20 World Cup - a competition he helped the former Yugoslavia win in 1987. Boban scored the decisive penalty in a shootout against West Germany after a 1-1 draw in the final.

Several of that team were alongside Boban helping their recently independent republic of Croatia reach the 1998 World Cup semifinals.

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