European Super League: Uefa and Fifa backed in battle to stop league’s creation

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Super League protest at Arsenal
Plans for the Super League led to protests outside several Premier League stadiums
Uefa and Fifa have received significant backing in their battle to block the creation of a European Super League.

In a report released by the European Court of Justice, its advocate general said the rules of football’s European and world governing bodies were “compatible with EU competition law”.

Athanasios Rantos gave his observations after a court case earlier this year brought by ESL and its backers A22.

A final ruling will be made by a 15-member Grand Chamber next spring.

European Super League timeline – football’s volatile 72 hours
It had been claimed that Uefa and Fifa were breaking competition law by threatening to sanction clubs and players who joined a breakaway league.

Plans for a European Super League caused a fallout across the football world when they were announced in April 2021.

The six Premier League sides that signed up to the project – Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham and Arsenal – quickly withdrew their support after a backlash from fans, football governing bodies and even government.

However, the plans have not been scrapped completely, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus still pushing the Super League idea.

‘Warmly welcomed’
In a statement on Thursday, European football’s governing body Uefa said it “warmly welcomed” the observations from Rantos which it said supported “our central mission to govern European football, protect the pyramid and develop the game across Europe”.

“[It] is an encouraging step towards preserving the existing dynamic and democratic governance structure of the European football pyramid,” Uefa said.

“It reinforces the central role of federations in protecting the sport, upholding fundamental principles of sporting merit and open access across our members, as well as uniting football with shared responsibility and solidarity.

“Football in Europe remains united and steadfastly opposed to the ESL, or any such breakaway proposals, which would threaten the entire European sports ecosystem.”

Fifa added: “Fifa welcomes the recognition by the Advocate General of the special nature of sport, including the pyramid structure, which preserves the nature of sporting merit and open competitions accessible to all, as well as the principles of promotion and relegation, competitive balance, and financial solidarity.”

The Premier League also welcomed the decision and said that the “fans’ voice regarding the essential nature of sporting integrity has been heard”.

Their statement read: “The focus of Premier League clubs is on improving the collective strength and competitiveness of the League in the best interests of the wider game.

“The Premier League will continue to engage in an open dialogue, with all relevant stakeholders, about how best to protect the complementary balance between domestic and European club football.”

The report is Rantos’ written opinion on the case and is non-binding, but it could influence the final decision by the court’s Grand Chamber.

“The Fifa-Uefa rules under which any new competition is subject to prior approval are compatible with EU competition law,” Rantos said

“Whilst ESLC is free to set up its own independent football competition outside the Uefa and Fifa ecosystem, it cannot however, in parallel with the creation of such a competition, continue to participate in the football competitions organised by Fifa and Uefa without the prior authorisation of those federations.”

He added: “It would appear that ESL’s founding clubs want, on the one hand, to benefit from the rights and advantages linked to membership of Uefa, without however being bound by Uefa’s rules and obligations.”

After the Super League plans were announced, nine of the clubs involved were fined by Uefa. But action against the remaining three – Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus – was halted following this legal process.

In response to the announcement, A22 chief executive Bernd Reichart said: “The opinion of the Advocate General is one step in an ongoing case, and we are pleased with the recognition of the right of third parties to organise pan-European club competitions.

“The Advocate General made clear that Uefa has a monopolistic position which comes with important responsibilities for enabling third parties to act freely in the market.

“However, we believe the 15 judges of the Grand Chamber who are entrusted with the responsibility to examine this case, will go substantially further and provide the opportunity for clubs to manage their own destiny in Europe.”

A statement from the European Clubs Association said: “Rantos proposes a clear rejection of the efforts of a few to undermine the foundations and historical heritage of European football for the many.

“As the body representing nearly 250 of Europe’s top football clubs, ECA is explicit in its strong opposition towards those self-interested few seeking to disrupt European club football and undermine the values that underpin it.”

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