Aleksander Ceferin in a tirade by critics after a shock decision to step down as Uefa president

Aleksander Ceferin will step down as Uefa president in 2027 – Kristy Sparow/Getty Images

Aleksander Ceferin shocked the rest of European football when he announced that he is stepping down as Uefa president in 2027 just minutes after being given permission to extend his term to 2031.

The Football Association was among the governing bodies left in the dark over his plans, being the only dissenting voice in voting against Ceferin’s controversial rule changes in Paris.

In an address to the media at the 48th Uefa Ordinary Congress immediately afterwards, Ceferin launched a tirade at his perceived critics, saying he wanted to see the surprise on their faces as he said he would not run for a fourth term.

“I decided about six months ago that I don’t plan to run in 2027,” he said. Ceferin had earlier said he was “tired” of Covid and “self-proclaimed moral authorities”. Citing his reasons for standing down, he said he had been away for seven years and it was time for new blood.

“What makes me happy and proud is that I am the captain of the ship that made the stormy weather,” he said.

Just half an hour earlier at the conference in Paris, Mark Bullingham, the chief executive of the FA, was the only administrator to apply a red card to rule changes.

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham has a red cardFA chief executive Mark Bullingham has a red card

FA chief executive Mark Bullingham (centre) was the only person red carded – Jamie Gardner/PA

The timing of Ceferin’s announcement is strange, given that his long-term ally, former Croatia and AC Milan superstar Zvonimir Boban, resigned from his role as Uefa technical director last month in protest at the term extension which is intended.

The controversial allowance for Ceferin which ran for another full term from 2027 to 2031 was included in a package of rule changes. The FA voted with Iceland and Norway to unbundle the statutory amendments. Most of the other proposed changes – such as increasing the minimum number of female representatives on UEFA’s executive committee from one to two – were fully supported by the FA.

When it came to a direct vote on the amendments, however, only the FA stood a red card.

An FA spokesman said: “We supported the legislative changes proposed by Uefa, apart from one – the proposed new term limits wording for Article 69.3.

“On Article 69.3, we believe that it was always intended that there should be a principle of three terms of four years as a maximum period for any member of the Uefa Exco to serve. We have recently implemented our own governance changes and we think it is important that we are consistent in our approach.

“We asked and voted for the legislative changes to be set down separately, but this was not supported by a sufficient majority and we respect that. We support all the other legislative changes that were put down by Congress but, because they were put down in one measure, we voted against them all, given our opposition to Article 69.3.”

Boban previously described the term limit proposal as “disastrous” in an open resignation letter published last month. “If I were to take such a difficult and wrong decision and turn my head, I would be going against the general principles and values ​​that I deeply believe in,” said the former Croatia and AC Milan player.

Ceferin was re-elected unopposed for a four-year term at the Uefa Congress in Lisbon last year.

‘I’m tired of the self-proclaimed moral authorities’

Ceferin claimed that Boban knew he was going to retire in 2027. “Honestly, I’m tired of Covid, I’m tired of two wars [and] nonsense projects of so-called Super League, ” said the Slovenian lawyer at a press conference rebuke against his perceived critics. “I am also tired of the self-proclaimed moral authorities who are only moral until it concerns their personal interests.”

In a subtle attack on his former lieutenant Boban, Ceferin said: “There are only two sentences about self-proclaimed moral authority. The person you know and I am talking about, he does not deserve any comment from my side but people who know him and we will make their own opinions. There is only one sentence about his pitiful cry about morality. He was one of the rare people who knew that I wasn’t going to run in 2027. The moment he got the information that I would reveal it after the Congress he went out with his narcissistic letter.

“He could not wait because after my exposure the talk would no longer make sense. Now think, which personal desires are involved? And think, which morality is involved?

“So in conclusion, I am very happy that I could finally explain my point of view in the future. It will be good if I could do it sooner.

“If you need any legal advice about me, Uefa, I would appreciate it if you would contact me before or at least after listening to people who are not lawyers and would do anything to achieve their personal desires.”

Sources close to Boban say he will not comment.

Ceferin added that he “met a lot of great people in football and I will meet more”.

“Be sure it is [the] most people in football are not like some clowns,” he said. “The majority are wonderful people who love our beautiful game. So, I have decided – let’s say about six months ago – that I no longer plan to run in 2027. The reason is that after some time each organization [needs] fresh blood but mostly because I’ve been away for seven years now, and I’ll be away from them for another three until 2027. My family knew it first.”

He added: “I did not want to reveal my thoughts before because of two reasons: first, I wanted to see the real face of certain people and I saw it; I saw good parts and bad. And of course I didn’t want to influence the conference. I wanted them to make a decision without knowing what I am telling you today because that is an honest decision. I have to say it was very funny watching all this hysteria and at the same time getting all the messages of support from my federation.”

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