Aleksander Ceferin has today announced he will not stand for a further term as president of soccer’s European governing body UEFA in 2027 despite gaining the right to change the organization’s statutes to allow him to do so.
UEFA statues limiting a president and executive committee members to a maximum of 12 years in their roles – three terms – were introduced by Ceferin in 2017 as part of a package of reforms he said were “essential for the strengthening of UEFA."
However, there has been a growing push within the organization to change the rules to allow him to run for office again when his final term ends in 2027.
Cerefin has been in power since 2016 and won a third term last April after running opposed. A further term would have extended his leadership to 2031.
The logic behind the extension was due to Ceferin not serving the full length of his first term due to him taking over from Michel Platini, who was forced to resign after receiving a ban.
However, during today’s UEFA Congress in Paris, he ruled out such a move despite the change being approved by the majority of the organization's members.
He said: “I decided six months ago that I would not run anymore. The reason is that after some time every organization needs fresh blood, but mainly because I was away from my family for seven years now.
“I intentionally didn’t want to disclose my thoughts before, because firstly, I wanted to see the real face of some people and I saw it.”
The news comes two weeks after UEFA’s technical director Zvonimir Boban resigned over the proposals. At the time, Boban said in an open letter that he was forced to step away after Ceferin told him “that he will, without any doubt, proceed with this idea that I find fatal.”
Speaking to media after the vote Ceferin criticized his detractor stating: “Just two sentences about the self-proclaimed moral authority. The person you know I am speaking about, does not deserve a comment from my side. But people who know him and me will make their own opinions.
“Just one thing about his pathetic cry about morality. He was one of the people who knew I was planning not to run in 2027. The moment he had the information I would disclose this after congress, he went out with his narcissistic letter.
“He could not wait because, after my disclosure, his whining would not make sense anymore. Now think – whose personal aspirations are in question, and whose morality is in question?”
The English Football Association was the only national governing body to oppose the changes in UEFA’s rules that would allow Ceferin the option of standing for a further four-year term, with the motion passing with 49 of the 55 associations approving.
To be implemented, the changes required a two-thirds majority from the organization's members.
Along with the FA, Norway and Iceland’s associations voted against bundling the rule amendments, which also included the much-supported move to increase the minimum female representation on the UEFA executive from one to two.
However, voting for all amendments in one bundle was approved, forcing the FA to vote against the term limit amendment as a matter of principle, rather than voting against Ceferin himself. Along with the modification to term limits, the increase of female representation was also approved.
An FA spokesperson said; “We believe that it was always intended that a principle of three terms of four years should be a maximum period for any UEFA exco member to serve.
“We have recently implemented governance changes of our own and think it’s important that we are consistent in our approach.”
Draft proposals to amend the 12-year presidential limit were first uncovered by the Financial Times in December.
Among its opposers was former Manchester United chief executive and member of UEFA’s executive committee David Gill, who called the proposals undemocratic.
The move echoed that of FIFA president Gianni Infantino, who is being permitted to run for president again in 2027 after the FIFA Council, which he chairs, decided that his first three years in charge of the organization did not count towards term limits.
Infantino, like Ceferin, entered his position in 2016 via the corruption scandal that had forced out numerous top executives before their terms had expired, allowing for Infantino and Ceferin to argue that their first terms where they had taken over from others mid-stint did not count towards the term limits.