Court Rules Against UEFA and FIFA on Defunct ESL Project
The Financial Times reported on a record-breaking decision by the Apex EU Court of Justice (ECJ) on UEFA and FIFA’s actions against the formation of a new league “European Super League”.
The EU’s highest court found that the European football governing body UEFA and global governing body FIFA’s actions that threatened to impose sanctions on players and clubs that joined the European Super League in 2021 was a breach of EU Law.
In 2021, several major European clubs made a decision to breakaway and form a parallel league “European Super League” (ESL) but this controversial announcement faced major pushbacks and was blocked by UEFA and FIFA with threats of sanctions for any club that joined the new league. Elite clubs like Manchester United, Liverpool Football Club, Manchester City Football Club, Chelsea Football Club, Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, Arsenal F.C, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Club Atlético de Madrid pulled out, effectively truncating the concept of the new league few days after its announcement.
However, it wasn’t the end of the story as A22 Sports Management, a company created to develop and sponsor the ESL, subsequently challenged UEFA and FIFA’s monopoly, accusing them of violating EU Competition and Free Movement Law. The case was referred to the ECJ by a court in Madrid.
The apex Court’s decision finds that UEFA and FIFA’s restrictions on clubs desirous of forming alternative leagues constitute unjustified constraints on the freedom of competition and is an abuse of dominant position. This decision though not a blanket prohibition on the giant governing bodies to prevent breakaway leagues, however, they will be required to now operate more fairly and firmly within the confines of European competition law.
UEFA in a statement sent to CNN acknowledged the judgement and affirms its commitment to compliance with European laws. FIFA has also acknowledged the ruling but is yet to fully comment on it.
A22 CEO Bernd Reichart in a press conference on future endeavours after the ruling, stated that “EUFA’s monopoly is over, and football is now free.”
The judgment coming from an apex court cannot be appealed against and the ruling will serve as a significant precedent in disputes over competition and participation especially in relation to football and sports in general.