European Super League boosted as clubs are told FIFA and UEFA must not interfere

By Sports Desk January 31, 2023

European Super League chiefs have succeeded in restoring an injunction preventing UEFA and FIFA from punishing clubs wishing to be involved in the controversial project.

Madrid's Audiencia Provincial Civil court issued a decision on Tuesday that was welcomed by organisers of the planned new competition.

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus have been the only clubs who have not backed away from the Super League, since its launch in April 2021 sparked a backlash and led nine of the 12 teams involved to pull out.

World governing body FIFA and European counterpart UEFA had warned players and clubs taking part in the breakaway league would be banned from their competitions, which include the World Cup and European Championship.

In December, an opinion published by the European Union's Court of Justice (CJEU) said UEFA and FIFA would be entitled to freeze out a European Super League and its competing teams.

That was in response to a request by the Commercial Court in Madrid to rule on whether FIFA and UEFA would have the right to take action in accordance with competition law and fundamental freedoms.

European Super League chiefs argued such actions should be regarded as anti-competitive and incompatible with EU competition law. The CJEU opinion was not a binding ruling, which is due to follow in the coming months, and now the sport's ruling bodies have been told they should not be using powers to intervene in the meantime.

The Madrid court said on Tuesday: "The problem is that the risk that exists of the arbitrary use by FIFA and UEFA of its disciplinary power does not adhere to the repercussion of its effects within the competitions they manage, but it can also be used, as it is clear that it has been threatened with doing so, to discourage any purpose of the operators of the market who are tempted to build relationships with the competitor."

It added: "The eventual justification of the conduct of FIFA and UEFA as an attempt to protect the European sports model we consider it, prima facie, as a flimsy excuse."

There is no guarantee clubs will be tempted back to the European Super League, given supporters of many teams were so strongly opposed, but Tuesday's ruling may encourage more to show an interest.

Six clubs from the Premier League and three each from LaLiga and Serie A initially agreed to join the European Super League, prior to public reaction leading to a rethink.

A22 Sports Management was set up to manage the European Super League project, and its CEO Bernd Reichart welcomed the latest development, saying it would allow his business "to freely continue the project of creating a new and exciting European football competition".

Reichart added: "It confirms that UEFA's monopoly position cannot be used to pressure or threaten clubs, players or companies willing to innovate and invigorate competition in professional football.

"We will therefore continue our dialogue with football stakeholders in a new and more appropriate environment, free from threats and other obstructive steps taken by UEFA and other bodies."

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