The European Court of Justice has declared that UEFA and FIFA are “abusing a dominant position” with their rules prohibiting clubs from participating in breakaway competitions like the European Super League, deeming them unlawful. The court ruled against the governing bodies, stating that the Super League project does not necessarily need approval.
While the initial report from December upheld the compatibility of football’s governing bodies with EU competition law, this verdict is viewed as a setback to the authority of UEFA and FIFA in governing the sport. The report emphasized that when new competitions are potentially entering the market, UEFA and FIFA must ensure their powers are transparent, objective, non-discriminatory, and proportionate. It concluded that their powers are not subject to such criteria, constituting an abuse of a dominant position.
In response to the verdict, A22 chief executive Bernd Reichart declared the Super League’s right to exist, asserting that UEFA’s monopoly is over, and football is now free. He highlighted the freedom of clubs from the threat of sanctions and their ability to determine their own future. For fans, free broadcasting of all Super League matches is promised, and clubs are assured income and solidarity expenses.
The European Super League controversy emerged in April 2021 when news broke that 12 teams, including English clubs Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, and Tottenham, had signed up for the breakaway competition. Public outcry and condemnation from various stakeholders led to the collapse of the plans within 72 hours. While some clubs faced fines, the legal process halted action against Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus. The Super League is not completely scrapped, with Real Madrid and Barcelona expressing continued interest in pursuing the venture. Spain’s La Liga emphasized the importance of an open and accessible format in European football.