We studied experimentally and theoretically the structural transition of diamond under an irradiation with an intense femtosecond extreme ultraviolet laser (XUV) pulse of 24–275 eV photon energy provided by free-electron lasers. Experimental results obtained show that the irradiated diamond undergoes a solid-to-solid phase transition to graphite, and not to an amorphous state. Our theoretical findings suggest that the nature of this transition is nonthermal, stimulated by a change of the interatomic potential triggered by the excitation of valence electrons. Ultrashort laser pulse duration enables to identify the subsequent steps of this process: electron excitation, band gap collapse, and the following atomic motion. A good agreement between the experimentally measured and theoretically calculated damage thresholds for the XUV range supports our conclusions.