The three clubs left standing in the fight to introduce a Super League have been handed an early blow after a legal expert at the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said that FIFA and UEFA's current regulations are compatible with EU competition law.
Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus -- acting as the European Super League Company -- have been battling in court to prove that the governing bodies of world football were acting as a cartel, blocking them from creating any new competitions. These clubs argue that in threatening sporting sanctions for players who participate in the Super League, including being banned from the World Cup or European Championships, FIFA and UEFA are abusing their monopoly in world football.
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In an initial on Thursday morning Athanasios Rantos, the ECJ's advocate general, said: "The FIFA-UEFA rules under which any new competition is subject to prior approval are compatible with EU competition law." He added that EU law would not prohibit UEFA and FIFA from being allowed to license any competition, meaning that Super League clubs would require the backing of governing body for their tournament. That does not mean that the triumvirate could not start their Super League, but if they did so, they could be expelled from the UEFA ecosystem.
On the matter of punishments for players and the clubs, Rantos added: "The EU competition rules do not prohibit FIFA, UEFA, their member federations or their national leagues from issuing threats of sanctions against clubs affiliated to those federations when those clubs participate in a project to set up a new competition which would risk undermining the objectives legitimately pursued by those federations of which they are members."
This is, however, a non-binding initial verdict with a further decision from the ECJ expected in 2023. The court's final decision cannot be appealed and would be handed down to the Madrid commercial court who referred this case. Though their battle is not yet over, UEFA were quick to respond to the decision, saying: "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.
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"Football in Europe remains united and steadfastly opposed to the [Super League], or any such breakaway proposals, which would threaten the entire European sports ecosystem."
The European Clubs' Association (ECA) added: "The opinion issued today by the ECJ's Advocate General Rantos proposes a clear rejection of the efforts of a few to undermine the foundations and historical heritage of European football for the many. As the body representing nearly 250 of Europe's top football clubs, ECA is explicit in its strong opposition towards those self-interested few seeking to disrupt European club football and undermine the values that underpin it."