UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin announced he will not run for reelection to the role in 2027 on Thursday, one hour after steering through controversial changes to the governing body's statutes that extend term limits and would have allowed him to do so.
Ceferin has led UEFA since 2016 and said he was "tired of COVID, tired of two wars" and of plans for a rival Super League that he called a "nonsense project."
The vote was held at UEFA's Congress at Maison de la Mutualité in Paris. The amendments were passed almost unanimously, with English Football Association chief Mark Bullingham the sole representative to vote against the changes, while Ukraine's FA abstained.
Ceferin needed only two-thirds of the delegations to vote in favour in order for the motion to pass. UEFA's previous rules prevented the president and members of the executive committee from running for office more than three times or staying in their posts for more than 12 years.
"UEFA is divided, I've heard," Ceferin said in a news conference after the vote. "UEFA is fragmented beyond repair, I've read. I hope at least the ones who claimed that are a bit embarrassed now."
He then surprisingly announced his intention to stand down in 2027.
"I decided, around six months ago, that I'm not planning to run in 2027 anymore," he said. "The reason is that after some time every organisation needs fresh blood, but mainly because I was away from my family for seven years now and will be away for three more until 2027.
"I intentionally did not want to disclose my thoughts before because of two reasons. First, I wanted to see the real face of some people and I saw it -- I saw good and bad parts. And of course I didn't want to influence the congress [ahead of Thursday's vote].
"Honestly speaking, I'm tired of COVID, two wars, nonsense projects of so-called Super League, and I'm also tired of self-proclaimed moral authorities, who are moral until it comes to their personal interest."
The amendments have been controversial, with UEFA's former chief of football Zvonimir Boban resigning in protest in January and denouncing Ceferin's "departure" from his values.
Ceferin said in the news conference Boban knew about his plans to leave in 2027 and described his resignation as "pathetic" and "narcissistic."
Ceferin said, as he had done previously in an interview with the Guardian, that the amendment was necessary as the previous statutes were passed by the administration without the vote of UEFA's Congress, which is illegal, according to the Slovenian.
Also on Thursday, Spain was the only European Union member to refuse to sign a joint statement on sports released by France on because the government in Madrid saw it as a premature attack on the Super League.
France's sports ministry released the non-binding statement signed by the 25 other EU member states except for Spain.
While it did not explicitly mention the Super League, the statement said it "invites sport governing bodies to organize sporting competitions in compliance with the principles of openness, equal opportunities, sporting merit, link between annual performance in domestic competitions and all European competitions."
Spain's Higher Council for Sport considered that language to be a criticism of the Super League, which is being backed by Spain's Real Madrid and Barcelona.
The council said in a statement on Thursday that its government does not want to take a formal position on the Super League until a Spanish mercantile court rules on a case brought by the rebel league's backers against UEFA. A hearing in that case is scheduled for March 14.
Instead, Spain said it will propose a formal meeting of the sports ministers of the EU states to discuss the Super League.
"I am happy that 26 countries signed," Ceferin said. "For the fact that one of the EU governments didn't sign, I don't have any comment."
Information from Reuters and The Associated Press was used in this report.