Court ruling opens the door for European Super League

Manchester City’s Erling Haaland with the UEFA Champions League trophy.

Manchester City’s Erling Haaland with the UEFA Champions League trophy. Photo: Getty

The prospects of a future European Super League have been boosted after judges said UEFA rules blocking the formation of such a competition were contrary to EU law.

The Grand Chamber of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) had been asked to decide whether UEFA and FIFA acted against competition law by blocking the formation of the European Super League in 2021, then seeking to sanction the clubs involved.

The court has ruled that UEFA and FIFA rules granting prior approval for new competitions are contrary to EU law.

A release issued by the court said such rules were “contrary to competition law and the freedom to provide services”.

The court release added: “There is no framework for the FIFA and UEFA rules ensuring that they are transparent, objective, non-discriminatory and proportionate.

“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.”

Twelve clubs, including the Premier League’s “Big Six”, announced the formation of the original European Super League in April 2021.

However, the plan quickly collapsed amid fan protests, pressure from UEFA and FIFA, and even opposition from the British government.

But now the ECJ appears to have given the green light to any such competition being relaunched in the future.

“The court observes that the organisation of interclub football competitions and the exploitation of the media rights are, quite evidently, economic activities,” the court release said.

“They must therefore comply with the competition rules and respect the freedoms of movement, even though the economic pursuit of sport has certain specific characteristics, such as the existence of associations having certain regulatory and control powers and the power to impose sanctions.

“The court also observes that, in parallel with those powers, FIFA and UEFA themselves organise football competitions.”

Bernd Reichart, chief executive of Super League promoters A22, said on social media platform X: “We have won the right to compete. The UEFA monopoly is over. Football is free. Clubs are now free from the threat of sanction and free to determine their own futures.”

Reichart also pledged “free viewing” of Super League matches to fans, though it was not immediately clear whether this meant for those watching in stadiums or on television or other platforms.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus have continued to support the idea of breaking away from UEFA, despite sanctions from European football’s governing body.


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