Opposition to UEFA president Ceferin's term limits vote looks to end with Romania pledging support

Fri, Feb 2, 2024
Soccer News (AP)

Opposition to UEFA president Ceferin's term limits vote looks to end with Romania pledging support

GENEVA (AP) - A potential rebellion at the UEFA congress next week against its president Aleksander Ceferin looked to have ended Friday when Romania's soccer federation said it would vote for extending his term limit.

Ceferin has faced growing unease about his leadership - over expressing initial support for disgraced Spanish official Luis Rubiales, trying to get Russia's youth teams back into international competitions and now by pushing to change UEFA statutes that would let him stay president beyond the 12-year limit until 2031.

The term limit issue provoked UEFA chief of football Zvonimir Boban to resign last week, and Romanian soccer leader Razvan Burleanu had become a focus of efforts to block the statutes change in Paris next Thursday.

Romanian media reported Burleanu's federation agreed Friday to back the proposal when the 55 European national soccer federations are asked to vote at their annual meeting.

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Burleanu, a colleague of Ceferin representing Europe on the ruling council of world soccer body FIFA, reportedly cited the need for unity after a December court ruling revived the prospect of a Super League project outside of UEFA's control.

Romania falling into line also suggested a lack of will at this time to challenge Ceferin, who has led UEFA since 2016 and was re-elected unopposed 10 months ago. He will be able to stand again in 2027 for a final four-year term if statute changes pass as expected in Paris.

The 12-year term limit at UEFA was approved as an anti-corruption measure in fallout from American and Swiss federal investigations of bribery in international soccer.

Ceferin said last week he was "very, very tired" and had not decided to run again, using the interview with British daily The Guardian to aim a barely disguised barb at Burleanu.

"There is this clown from one of the federations who calls other federations and media daily, whining: 'This is a conspiracy,' without saying anything to me or to UEFA leadership," Ceferin told The Guardian. "We've been informed by other federations about his behavior and they're laughing at him and his actions."

Opposition to Ceferin's term limit move also came from the UEFA treasurer, former Manchester United CEO David Gill, at a Dec. 2 meeting in Hamburg, Germany.

Ceferin also was confronted by his top elected colleagues after the Russian youth teams proposal was a late addition to the executive committee agenda at a September meeting in Cyprus.

Gill, Burleanu and Poland soccer great Zbigniew Boniek also objected then to easing UEFA's ban on Russian teams from its competitions. After about 12 member countries later insisted they would continue to refuse to play Russia, UEFA backed down two weeks later.

Ceferin is due to chair another UEFA executive meeting in Paris on Wednesday, one day before its annual meeting.

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