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A top Uefa official has quit in protest at a move to alter the rule book of European football’s governing body to enable its president to extend his tenure beyond mandated limits.
Zvonimir Boban, Uefa’s chief of football since 2021, said in a statement that he had expressed his “deepest concern and total disapproval” to Uefa president Aleksander Čeferin over the planned statute changes, which were first reported by the Financial Times last month.
The proposed reforms would allow Čeferin to seek a further four-year term as president when his current one ends in 2027. Čeferin, a Slovenian lawyer, was first elected head of Uefa in 2016 in the wake of a corruption scandal that rocked Fifa, world football’s governing body. Term limits were brought in as part of an overhaul of governance soon after he took over.
Despite his objections, Boban said that Čeferin saw no issues with the proposals and intended to “move forward in pursuit of personal aspirations”. As a result, Boban, a former Croatian international footballer, said that “with sorrow and a heavy heart, I have no option but to leave Uefa”.
“These rules were designed to protect Uefa and European football from the ‘bad governance’ which had unfortunately become the ‘modus operandi’ of what is often referred to as the ‘old system’ of football governance,” he said. “The reforms were to football’s great credit, and that of the Uefa president. His shift away from these values is beyond comprehension.”
Uefa confirmed Boban’s departure in a statement, saying he had left “by mutual agreement”, adding: “Uefa extends its gratitude to Mr Boban for his dedicated service and wishes him the best of luck in his future career endeavours.”
The new rules, which would also remove age limits for members of Uefa’s executive committee, will be voted on next month at a meeting in Paris. If approved by the 55 member federations, Uefa would follow Fifa in allowing its incumbent president to seek a further term in office beyond the current limit of three four-year terms. Some members of the International Olympic Committee have recently called for Thomas Bach to stay in post beyond 2025, when his presidency is due to end.
Boban is the first senior Uefa figure to go public with his opposition to the plans, but others within the body’s top leadership have voiced their displeasure privately, according to those familiar with the matter.
Alex Philips, former head of governance at Uefa, said Boban’s intervention would “definitely” have an impact on the process for approving the changes, in part because of the manner of his departure. “The wording of his statement is quite damaging for Čeferin”, he said.
The turmoil comes a month after Europe’s top court ruled that the response from Uefa and Fifa to the attempted launch of the European Super League, an attempted rival to the Champions League, Uefa’s premier club competition, had been unlawful.
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