TOLeksander Ceferin stubbornly read from a paper during his coup. “I am tired of Covid, tired of two wars, of meaningless projects like the so-called Super League,” the president of the European Football Union (UEFA) said on Thursday in Paris and, surprisingly, declared that he would not stand for elections again in 2027. Only an hour earlier, the European Football Union Congress had cleared the way for a new candidacy by amending the statutes, but Ceferin took advantage of the moment to lash out at length at his critics and the media.

“It was very funny to see this hysteria,” said Ceferin, who only allowed three questions, but didn't really feel like answering them anymore. The 56-year-old said he made the decision six months ago. After a certain time, every organization needs “fresh blood.” His family found out first and he was able to look in the mirror with peace of mind. He left the press room of the Maison de la Mutualité with his gaze fixed in her eyes.

In recent weeks there has been great speculation about a rebellion at UEFA due to the planned change in the statutes to make the limits of its mandate more flexible. Former professional Zvonimir Boban, who was a close advisor to Ceferin for the first time in September 2016, resigned from his senior position at UEFA in protest and criticized the UEFA President.

“The majority are not clowns”

Ceferin did not name his former intimate, but left little doubt who he was referring to with his criticism. “I'm also tired of self-proclaimed moral authorities who claim to be moral until their personal interests come into play,” Ceferin said, calling public criticism of him a “pathetic cry.” “He was one of the few people who knew that he would not compete again.”

Ceferin added that he met “a lot of wonderful people” in football. “Most of them are not clowns.” He has a “beautiful life” in football, but also an equally wonderful one outside of the sport.

It is still unclear to what extent DFB President Bernd Neuendorf was aware of the plans on Thursday afternoon. Immediately after the congress, the 62-year-old highlighted his great appreciation for Ceferin. “We have had very close communication since I took over,” especially on the occasion of the summer European Championships in Germany, Neuendorf said shortly before Ceferin announced his decision at the press conference.

At the congress, only three of 55 national federations voted against voting en bloc on various changes to the statutes. As a result, there was no deeper debate on the individual statutes. The changes themselves were approved by a large majority. Due to the new wording, Ceferin's first term, in which he completed the remaining term of his suspended predecessor Michel Platini, does not count towards the maximum possible twelve years in office.

UEFA is mainly relying on a legal opinion according to which the previous wording of the statutes was not compatible with Swiss law. Neuendorf also emphasized that the changes cannot be legally challenged. The umbrella organization is based in Nyon.

Ceferin, who was confirmed in his position by acclamation last year, fumed: “I am a lawyer and I have read articles about myself without being asked.” The UEFA President justified his long silence by saying that he was “the true face” some people wanted to see. “And I saw it.”