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Ceferin stepping down as UEFA president in 2027

Kristy Sparow - UEFA / UEFA / Getty

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PARIS (AP) — UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin said on Thursday he will not stand as a candidate in 2027, one hour after steering through a controversial change of legal rules that would have let him.

Ceferin has led UEFA since 2016 and said he was "tired of COVID, tired of two wars" and of plans for a rival Super League that he called a "nonsense project."

The Slovenian lawyer claimed he made the decision for family reasons six months ago, yet the progress of the rule change since November through various UEFA committees — that would allow him to stay in office until 2031 — provoked opposition including from vice president David Gill, the former Manchester United chief executive.

UEFA introduced a presidential term limit of 12 years in 2017 in fallout from American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption in international soccer.

Soccer bodies came under pressure to reform and prevent networks of self-serving patronage and influence building, and Ceferin himself promised he would not stay beyond 2027 in a job that pays him about $3.5 million annually.

Ceferin aimed a barb at another perceived opponent when making a statement at a news conference after the annual UEFA congress of 55 member federations closed.

He spoke of an unnamed European soccer official who made a "pathetic cry about morality" in a "narcissistic letter" to member federations.

"It was actually amusing to watch all this hysteria," said Ceferin, adding he had not revealed his true intentions earlier because he wanted to see "the real face of some people."

His target is widely understood to be Romanian federation president Razvan Burleanu, one of Ceferin's colleagues representing Europe on the ruling council of FIFA.

The move on term limits that Ceferin was criticized for has already been made at FIFA by its president Gianni Infantino, who attended the UEFA meeting in Paris.

Infantino also was elected in 2016 in fallout from the corruption investigations and steered through statutes changes early in his presidency that will let him stay until 2031.

Ceferin’s perceived power grab was more controversial after he caused unease by seeming to support UEFA vice president Luis Rubiales from Spain in fallout from misconduct at the Women's World Cup final in August, and trying to ease a ban on Russian teams from international competitions by letting the country’s under-17 teams enter UEFA events.


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