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FIFA, UEFA can’t stop Super League – EU court

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The European Court of Justice on Thursday ruled that UEFA’s control over European football constitutes an illegal monopoly under EU competition law. 

The ruling provides a significant boost to the Super League project and its backers, A22 Sports. 

The court found that FIFA and UEFA’s rules requiring prior approval for new football competitions, including the Super League, were “contrary to EU law” and lacked transparency, objectivity, non-discrimination, and proportionality.

The decision asserted that FIFA and UEFA’s exclusive control over the commercial rights of these competitions restricts competition within the European Union. The court determined that organizing football competitions is an economic activity and must adhere to competition rules and respect freedom of movement. Contrary to a previous non-binding opinion, the court held that FIFA and UEFA were “abusing a dominant position” in the football market.

“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.

“Similarly, the rules giving FIFA and UEFA exclusive control over the commercial exploitation of the rights related to those competitions are such as to restrict competition, given their importance for the media, consumers and television viewers in the European Union.”

While the ruling does not mandate approval for a competition like the Super League, it signifies a victory against UEFA’s monopoly. Bernd Reichart, A22 Sports CEO, expressed, “UEFA’s monopoly is over. Football is free. Now the clubs won’t suffer threats and punishments. They’re free to decide their own future.”

The Super League, aiming to replace UEFA’s Champions League, faced initial opposition from UEFA, FIFA, and public backlash, leading nine of the initial 12 clubs to withdraw. 

Real Madrid, Barcelona, and Juventus remained as public backers. A22 Sports, leading the Super League’s relaunch, proposed a more open, meritocratic format, emphasizing free broadcasts for fans and guaranteed club income and solidarity payments.

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