Aleksander Ceferin, the president of Uefa, has declared that he will not seek another term in office. This means he will not try to prolong his leadership until 2031, as his current mandate ends in four years.
After the governing body’s annual congress in Paris, Ceferin made a dramatic and sometimes strange statement to the media. He criticized his opponents and revealed that he had made the decision to step down in 2027 six months ago. This revelation came shortly after Uefa’s member associations voted to amend its statutes, allowing Ceferin to run for a fourth term. This rule change would have disregarded his first two years in office, as he had taken over for Michel Platini in the middle of a four-year term in 2016.
The changes had created a lot of discomfort, but Ceferin caught most of those in attendance off guard when he announced his intended resignation. His disclosure came as a surprise to several high-ranking individuals in Uefa, and even some of his closest colleagues on the executive committee were not informed until Wednesday.
Ceferin stated that he has encountered numerous admirable individuals in the world of football and anticipates meeting even more. He assured that the majority of people involved in football are not like certain foolish individuals. As a result, about six months ago, he made the decision to no longer seek re-election in 2027.
The main factor is that every company eventually requires new employees, but in this case, it is primarily because I have been separated from my family for seven years and will continue to be until 2027. My family was aware of this before anyone else.
The phrase “planning to run” allows for the possibility of a change of decision in theory, but there was no additional explanation given after the fact. Ceferin hinted that he purposely delayed making an announcement to gauge the reactions of Uefa’s stakeholders to the proposed changes, which caused worry that he wanted to hold onto his position for longer than the usual 12-year term. He also seemed to make fun of the media’s reaction.
“He expressed his desire to witness the true nature of certain individuals, and indeed, he observed both positive and negative traits. He also made it clear that he had no intention of swaying the congress.”
“I wanted them to make their decision without any prior knowledge of what I am sharing with you today, as it would be a truly genuine decision. I must admit, it was quite entertaining to witness all the frenzy and receive messages of support from my fellow federations.”
The Slovenian’s main anger was directed towards Zvonimir Boban, his previous head of football, who stepped down three weeks ago in objection to the proposed statutes. Ceferin did not explicitly mention Boban, who had strongly criticized the changes he deemed “fatal,” but made it clear that he doubted his former ally’s integrity.
“Just one sentence about his pathetic cry about morality: he was one of the rare people who knew I was not planning to run in 2027,” he said. “The moment he got the information that I would disclose it after the conference, he went out with his narcissistic letter. He could not wait because after my disclosure, his whining would not make sense.” Sources close to Boban reject the suggestion that he knew in advance of Ceferin’s decision not to run.
Ceferin recently expressed his frustration with his role as president, stating that the Covid pandemic, two ongoing wars, and the controversy surrounding the Super League have dampened his enthusiasm. He also mentioned his exhaustion with individuals who claim to be moral authorities but only act in their own self-interest. Despite this, he did not confirm whether or not he would run for re-election.
During the proceedings, the Football Association was the only member out of Uefa’s 55 to oppose the changes to the statute. This decision, which was made by chief executive Mark Bullingham, had been previously mentioned as a stand for good governance rather than a form of disagreement with Ceferin. A group of 10 potential rebels had disbanded in the week prior to the congress.
Ceferin suggested those voicing disquiet about term limit changes should feel embarrassed when faced by such a show of outwards unity. But some federations are known to have bitten their tongues, concluding that this was not a battle worth fighting at a time when ripples from December’s Super League judgment continue to reverberate around Europe.
During the congress, Gianni Infantino, the president of Fifa, spoke to delegates and suggested that they collaborate to create a new resolution against racism by May, when the Fifa congress will take place in Bangkok. Infantino also proposed implementing forfeits for teams responsible for match abandonments due to racist incidents and pressing criminal charges against offenders.