BRUSSELS ( Associated Press) — Club Super League suffered a setback Thursday after the European Union’s advocate general issued a non-binding opinion in favor of UEFA and FIFA.
General Counsel Athanasios Rantos has dealt a blow to the promoters of the Super League, who are trying to break the traditional model of the European tournament.
Rantos proposed that the European Court of Justice consider that the FIFA and UEFA rules, according to which the Super League project would be subject to prior authorisation, are compatible with European competition laws.
While organizers can create a separate competition outside UEFA and FIFA, they cannot continue to play matches sanctioned by UEFA and FIFA without their approval, Rantos said.
In general, general counsels provide legal guidance to CEJs. His opinion is not binding on the Luxembourg-based court, but his instructions are followed in most cases.
Rantos acknowledged that UEFA and FIFA could restrict competitors’ European football tournament organization market access. However, it insisted that “this fact, if established, does not clearly mean that these rules are intended to restrict competition.”
UEFA welcomed the recommendation “with pleasure” and said it was “an encouraging step towards preserving the current dynamic and democratic governance structure of the European football pyramid.”
Rantos’ opinion, UEFA said, reinforces the federations’ role in “protecting the game, defending the fundamental principles of sporting merit and open access among all our members, as well as uniting football with responsibility and solidarity”. Is.
The Association of European Clubs, which represents the continent’s top football clubs, also welcomed Rantos’ recommendation, saying “it was a clear rejection of some attempts to undermine the foundations and historical legacy of football.” European for the majority”.
The matter was taken up for hearing in July after the Super League failed to start in April 2021. The company, made up of 12 rogue clubs – now led by Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus Turin – took legal action and a court in Madrid asked the Court of Justice to rule on the issues of EU law.
The clubs accused UEFA of an alleged abuse of market dominance by exercising control of football competitions in breach of European law.
In its defence, UEFA claimed that it protects sport’s special place in European society by opening pyramid-shaped competitions to all and funding grassroots football.
Rogue clubs in England, Spain and Italy came under heavy criticism when they presented their plans for an almost-closed alternative to the UEFA Champions League last year. UEFA president Aleksandar Ceferin labeled club officials “snakes” and “liars” and threatened to ban players from Super League clubs.
The solicitor general said the court should also decide that European competition law does not prohibit FIFA, UEFA, their member associations or other national leagues “from threatening sanctions against clubs affiliated with those associations when those clubs enter a new competition”. participate in a project to create competition that would jeopardize the legitimate objectives of the associations of which they are members.
A final decision is expected next year. This is the most anticipated sports court decision since the so-called Bosman case in 1995. That case changed the transfer system in the world of football, increasing the wages of frontline players and ultimately sharpening the income and competition gap between wealthier clubs. And the rest.
Graham Dunbar in Doha, Qatar contributed to this report.