Aleksander Ceferin prevailed in an effort that would have allowed him another four-year stint as president. Then he announced he wouldn’t seek one.
European soccer leaders on Thursday fell squarely in line behind their powerful president, Aleksander Ceferin, by approving a change to term-limit rules that would have allowed him to retain his post through 2031, years beyond the organization’s strict 12-year term limit.
The vote, though, was quickly rendered meaningless: About an hour after winning the right to pursue a new four-year term as president of European soccer’s governing body, UEFA, Mr. Ceferin said that he would not seek one.
“I’ve decided I am not planning to run in 2027,” a stony-faced Mr. Ceferin said, reading from prepared notes in comments that he used to simultaneously explain his thinking and settle scores with the news media and other soccer officials.
Mr. Ceferin said that he had made the decision not to seek another term six months ago, after growing weary of issues such as leading the effort to suppress a breakaway super league and managing European soccer through the pandemic and wars in Ukraine and Gaza.
He said that he had not revealed his plans earlier because he wanted to first assess the loyalty of UEFA’s members. In recent months, several top officials in the governing body’s leadership had objected, publicly and privately, to his growing power and to any weakening of term limits.
The suggestions of a conflict first flared up at a meeting of UEFA’s executive board in December when Mr. Ceferin’s motivations for the rule change were first questioned. Even as that meeting grew feisty, though, he did not take the opportunity to make his intentions clear. Nor did he do so in January, when one of his top aides, Zvonimir Boban, a former star player from Croatia, resigned — in part, Mr. Boban said, to protest the president’s maneuvering.