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European Super League: Court rules FIFA & UEFA cannot block clubs from joining new competition

The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that FIFA and UEFA cannot prohibit clubs from joining the Super League.

After the project was first unveiled in 2021, UEFA and FIFA both warned that any players and clubs who opted to join the Super League could be banned from taking part in any of their pre-existing competitions.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Tottenham Hotspur, AC Milan, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Inter, Juventus and Real Madrid were all founding members of the Super League, but immense fan backlash saw nine of those clubs withdraw within days.

Juventus pulled out in July 2023, but Real Madrid and Barcelona have remained adamant that the Super League will be formed in the coming years and Thursday’s verdict will only boost their optimism.

“The FIFA and UEFA rules making any new interclub football prohect subject to their prior approval, such as the Super League, and prohibiting clubs and players from playing in those competitions, are unlawful,” a court statement read.

“There is no framework for the FIFA and UEFA rules ensuring that they are transparent, objective, non-discriminatory and proportionate.

Florentino Perez

“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.

“The Court observes that the organisation of interclub football competitions and the exploitation of the media rights are, quite evidently, economic activities. They must therefore comply with the competition rules and respect the freedoms of movement, even though the economic pursuit of sport has certain specific characteristics, such as the existence of associations having certain regulatory and control powers and the power to impose sanctions. The Court also observes that, in parallel with those powers, FIFA and UEFA themselves organise football competitions.

“Next, the Court holds that, where an undertaking in a dominant position has the power to determine the conditions in which potentially competing undertakings may access the market, that power must, given the risk of conflict of interest to which it gives rise, be subject to criteria which are suitable for ensuring that they are transparent, objective, non-discriminatory and proportionate. However, the powers of FIFA and UEFA are not subject to any such criteria. FIFA and UEFA are, therefore, abusing a dominant position.”

The ruling means that FIFA and UEFA must offer the body behind the Super League a fair opportunity to create the competition but, importantly, does not guarantee its creation.

“That does not mean that a competition such as the Super League project must necessarily be approved,” the statement added. “The Court, having been asked generally about the FIFA and UEFA rules, does not rule on that specific project in its Judgment.”