FIFA & UEFA cannot prevent clubs from joining new competition, court rules

The European Court of Justice has made a groundbreaking ruling on the controversial Super League project, stating that FIFA and UEFA cannot prevent clubs from joining the competition. This decision comes after both FIFA and UEFA warned that clubs and players who participated in the Super League could face bans from their existing competitions.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter, Juventus, and Real Madrid were among the founding members of the Super League. However, following widespread backlash, nine of these clubs withdrew from the project. Juventus later exited in July 2023, but Real Madrid and Barcelona have remained committed to the formation of the Super League despite the challenges.

In a verdict that will undoubtedly bolster the aspirations of the remaining clubs, the European Court of Justice declared that FIFA and UEFA’s rules regarding the establishment of new interclub football projects and the prohibition of clubs and players from participating in those competitions are unlawful. The court found that these rules lacked transparency, objectivity, and non-discrimination and were therefore disproportionate.

The court also noted that the exclusive control exerted by FIFA and UEFA over the commercial exploitation of the rights related to these competitions served to restrict competition in the EU, particularly with regard to media and television rights. The ruling emphasized that the organization of interclub football competitions and the commercial exploitation of media rights are inherently economic activities that must comply with competition rules and respect the freedoms of movement within the EU.

Furthermore, the court determined that FIFA and UEFA, as dominant forces in the football industry, abused their power by failing to adhere to criteria that would ensure transparency, objectivity, non-discrimination, and proportionality. As a result, the court concluded that FIFA and UEFA were abusing their dominant position in the sport.

While the ruling compels FIFA and UEFA to provide a fair opportunity for the body behind the Super League to create the competition, it does not guarantee the project’s approval. The court clarified that its judgment did not specifically rule on the Super League project itself but addressed the broader issue of FIFA and UEFA’s rules as a whole.

The court’s decision is likely to have far-reaching implications for the governance and regulation of football competitions in the EU. It remains to be seen how FIFA and UEFA will respond to this significant legal setback, and whether it will reignite efforts to establish the Super League or pave the way for alternative approaches to reforming the sport.


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