UEFA and FIFA were found to have acted against competition law in their blocking of the creation of a European Super League in 2021, the European Court of Justice has ruled.
The binding ruling handed out on Thursday marked the latest stage in a legal process initiated by the European Super League Company after clubs who participated in the breakaway plans were threatened with sanctions by the governing bodies.
In a sweeping initial victory for the rebel plans, the Grand Chamber’s decision stated: ‘The FIFA and UEFA rules on prior approval of interclub football competitions, such as the Super League, are contrary to EU law.’
Specifically, the governing bodies’ actions were ‘contrary to competition law and the freedom to provide services’.
‘The FIFA and UEFA rules making any new interclub football project subject to their prior approval, such as the Super League, and prohibiting clubs and players from playing in those competitions, are unlawful. There is no framework for the FIFA and UEFA rules ensuring that they are transparent, objective, non-discriminatory and proportionate,’ the verdict summary read.
‘Similarly, the rules giving FIFA and UEFA exclusive control over the commercial exploitation of the rights related to those competitions are such as to restrict competition, given their importance for the media, consumers and television viewers in the European Union’.
In the wake of the judgement, the case will now return to the Madrid-based court where the European Super League Company first applied for the temporary injunction from related FIFA and UEFA sanctions.
Bernd Reichart, CEO of the Super League: “We have won the right to compete. UEFA’s monopoly is over. Football is FREE.
We are going to broadcast all the games for free. Club income and solidarity payments are guaranteed.”
In February, A22 – the company formed to both sponsor and assist the creation of the European Super League – announced a new format beyond the 20 teams which would comprise of several divisions and be guided by 10 overarching principals.
This tournament would be run alongside existing domestic tournaments, and a woman’s competition is also said to be in the works.