‘Football is free’: European Super League rises from the grave after court decision rocks FIFA, UEFA
Super League soccer has been revived after the European Union’s top court ruled governing bodies UEFA and FIFA had defied competition law by blocking the breakaway project.
The ruling was welcomed by Real Madrid who, along with Barcelona, are leading the fight to form a rival competition to the Champions League.
And the Super League promoters, Madrid-based A22 Sports Management, immediately announced new proposed competitions for men and women, saying young fans are “turning away” from soccer.
“It has been fully recognised that the clubs have the right to propose and promote European competitions that modernise our sport and attract fans from all over the world,” Madrid president Florentino Perez said.
“Today, a Europe of freedoms has triumphed, and also football and its fans have triumphed.”
The case was heard last year at the European Court of Justice after Super League failed at launch in April 2021. UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin called the club leaders then “snakes” and “liars.”
The company formed by 12 rebel clubs — now led by only Real Madrid and Barcelona after Juventus withdrew this year — started legal action and the court was asked to rule on points of EU law by a Madrid tribunal.
“We have won the right to compete. The UEFA monopoly is over. Football is free,” said Bernd Reichart, the CEO of A22.
“Clubs are now free from the threat of sanctions and free to determine their own futures.”
In a presentation streamed on YouTube, Reichart said there would be no permanent members of the new competition and they would remain committed to their domestic leagues.
The league and knockout competition would also be played midweek so as not to impact domestic leagues.
The clubs accused UEFA of breaching European law by allegedly abusing its market dominance of soccer competitions.
“The FIFA and UEFA rules making any new interclub football project subject to their prior approval, such as the Super League, and prohibiting clubs and players from playing in those competitions, are unlawful,” the court said.
“There is no framework for the FIFA and UEFA rules ensuring that they are transparent, objective, non-discriminatory and proportionate.”
The court acknowledged FIFA and UEFA were abusing a dominant position and their rules on approval, control and sanctions “must be held to be unjustified restrictions on the freedom to provide services.”
While clearing the way for Super League, the court also said it “does not mean that a competition such as the Super League project must necessarily be approved.”
UEFA said it addressed last year “a historical shortfall within UEFA’s pre-authorisation framework” and pledged to continue defending the central role of governing bodies in the European sports model.
“UEFA is confident in the robustness of its new rules, and specifically that they comply with all relevant European laws and regulations,” it said.
The European Club Association, which represents Europe’s top football clubs, reiterated its staunch opposition to Super League.
“In short, the world of football moved on from the Super League years ago and progressive reforms will continue,” the group said.
English clubs are still unlikely to join a revived plan. The Premier League’s international appeal and financial power has grown in the past two years, and a UK government bill announced last month by King Charles proposed powers to block English teams from trying to join a breakaway league.