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 allow him to retain his post through 2031, years beyond the organization’s 12-year term limit.
The vote, though, may have been 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 he would not seek one.
“I’ve decided I am not planning to run in 2027,” a stony-faced Mr. Ceferin said as he read from a prepared statement. He said he had made the decision “six months ago,” after growing tired of issues ranging from leading the effort to suppress a breakaway super league to managing European soccer through wars in Ukraine and Gaza and a global pandemic.
He said he had not revealed his decision earlier because he wanted to first understand the loyalty of UEFA’s members. In recent months, several members of the governing body’s leadership had objected, publicly and privately, to any weakening of term limits.
That had raised the prospect that Thursday’s vote might offer a rebellion. Instead, it brought near-total capitulation: Only one of UEFA’s 55 member federations, England, voted no on the term-limits change.
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