UEFA handed boost in battle with Super League rebels
A legal opinion has backed UEFA’s role in approving new football competitions
The ill-fated European Super League project has been dealt another hammer blow after it was stated that both UEFA and FIFA are capable of sanctioning any teams who partner with the breakaway football competition.
The legal opinion, which is non-binding and was delivered by advocate general Athanasios Rantos Thursday morning at the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, comes in advance of a final ruling on the matter expected next year after the European Super League Company’s (ESLC) formal objection to UEFA’s opposition of the renegade project.
The European Super League triggered something of a civil war within the sport when it was first announced last year, with supporters of many of the involved clubs demonstrating against the proposed breakaway football competition.
The initial signees were also threatened with financial and sporting sanctions in the wake of its announcement.
This led to a majority of the founding members to the project withdrawing their candidacy, though Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus remain committed.
The ESLC claimed that UEFA and FIFA were abusing their respective positions under the terms of EU competition law.
But the argument put forth at the European Court of Justice fell heavily in favor of the existing football infrastructure, and said that both UEFA and FIFA are within their rights in imposing potential sanctions against rebel football clubs.
Massive blow for those clubs pushing a Super League – European Court of Justice first ruling backs UEFA’s right to approve new competitions.
— Martyn Ziegler (@martynziegler) December 15, 2022
UEFA warmly welcomes today’s unequivocal Opinion recommending a ruling of the CJEU in support of our central mission to govern European football, protect the pyramid and develop the game across Europe.
— UEFA (@UEFA) December 15, 2022
“The FIFA-UEFA rules under which any new competition is subject to prior approval are compatible with EU competition law,” the advocate general wrote.
“Whilst ESLC 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 authorization of those federations.”
Effectively this means that clubs are eligible to join a breakaway European league but that they must forfeit their positions in their domestic leagues to do so.
UEFA, meanwhile, said that it “warmly welcomed” what it described as the “unequivocal” opinion delivered by Rantos.
“The opinion reinforces the central role of federations in protecting the sport, upholding fundamental principles of sporting merit and open access across our members, as well as uniting football with shared responsibility and solidarity,” it said.