Boban quits UEFA on point of principle

January 25 – Zvonimir Boban has suddenly quit as UEFA’s chief of football in protest at Aleksander Ceferin’s apparent push to change statutes that would let him stay in office as president longer than the current rules permit.

Boban voiced his disapproval of a proposed amendment to the organisation’s statutes, accusing the Slovenian of pursuing his “personal aspirations”.

Boban said in a statement: “It is with sorrow, and a heavy heart, I have no option but to leave UEFA. I am not trying to be some sort of hero, especially as I am not alone in my thinking here.

“Despite having expressed my deepest concern and total disapproval, the UEFA president does not consider there to be any legal issues with the proposed changes, let alone any moral or ethical ones, and he intends to move forward regardless in pursuit of his personal aspirations.”

Details of the internal turmoil were first made public after a meeting of UEFA’s executive committee in Hamburg during last month’s draw for this summer’s  European Championship.

A proposal was made there to amend statutes that currently limit terms of office for executives – including a president – to 12 years. Ceferin himself introduced the measure in response to the 2015 FIFA scandal which brought down his predecessor, Michel Platini.

There is a disagreement over whether those rules were intended to apply to terms that began before they first came into force in 2017 – Ceferin was first elected the previous year.

David Gill, the UEFA treasurer and former Manchester United chief executive, argued at the meeting that Ceferin will have served his time as UEFA president and that he shouldn’t be allowed to run for a fourth term.

The counter argument is that under the statute reform Ceferin has not had three terms in post but only two with his first election having been outside the new term rules later introduced, and that it was not in any case a full term.

Boban praised Ceferin for having backed reforms early in his presidency but said “his shift away from these values is beyond comprehension”.

“I fully appreciate that nothing is ideal, let alone myself, and at times compromises may be necessary,” Boban wrote. “However, being party to this would go against all the principles and values I wholeheartedly believe in and stand for.”

Ceferin, who is due to step down in 2027, was unopposed when he was re-elected last year. He denied the proposed change on term limits – due to be ratified at next month’s UEFA Congress in Paris – was attempt to extend his own mandate, claiming it was to rectify an invalid provision that had never been properly approved by UEFA’s member associations.

“This is a matter of fact, not a legal issue,” he was quoted as saying.

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