ECJ strikes major blow for Uefa and Fifa in legal battle over European Super League
Three of football’s biggest clubs have suffered a major blow to their hopes of reviving a breakaway Super League at the European Court of Justice.
In a recommendation issued by an advocate general this morning that followed a hearing at the ECJ in July, the court has been advised to side with governing bodies Uefa and Fifa in their legal battle with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus.
If, as expected, the ECJ endorses that view, it will effectively smother any chance of the rebel clubs launching a Super League in its current guise.
The three teams had argued that Uefa and Fifa were violating competition law by sanctioning any entities seeking to set up a rival league.
But the advocate general resoundingly backed the governing bodies, deeming their actions to be justified in promoting a healthy European football ecosystem.
“The Fifa-Uefa rules under which any new competition is subject to prior approval are compatible with EU competition law,” said Advocate General Athanasios Rantos.
“The EU competition rules do not prohibit Fifa, Uefa, their member federations or their national leagues from issuing threats of sanctions against clubs affiliated to those federations when those clubs participate in a project to set up a new competition which would risk undermining the objectives legitimately pursued by those federations of which they are members.”
The advocate general added that there was nothing to prevent clubs from forming a Super League or other breakaway, but that they could not do so while still deriving the benefits of playing in existing domestic leagues and European competitions such as the Champions League.
He added: “Whilst ESLC [European Superleague Company] is free to set up its own independent football competition outside the Uefa and Fifa ecosystem, it cannot however, in parallel with the creation of such a competition, continue to participate in the football competitions organised by FIFA and UEFA without the prior authorisation of those federations.”
Uefa said it “warmly welcomed” the recommendation, which will inform the court’s ultimate judgement, due next year.
“Football in Europe remains united and steadfastly opposed to the European Super League, or any such breakaway proposals, which would threaten the entire European sports ecosystem,” Uefa added.
Influential lobby group the European Club Association said: “The Opinion issued today by the ECJ’s Advocate General Rantos proposes a clear rejection of the efforts of a few to undermine the foundations and historical heritage of European football for the many.”