Return of the European Super League? Fifa and Uefa should not have blocked hated plans, EU court says

21 December 2023, 09:53

Furious fans protested the super league
Furious fans protested the super league. Picture: Alamy

By Will Taylor

Football governing bodies Fifa and Uefa acted illegally in blocking the controversial creation of a "European Super League" of breakaway clubs, the EU's court has ruled.

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They had abused their dominant position of the game, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg said in a ruling today.

The hated super league idea saw 12 of the biggest clubs in Europe, including Manchester United, Liverpool, Real Madrid and Barcelona - announce they would break away from the usual European competitions and instead form their own.

Fans were furious their clubs were planning to set up a new league, outside of established tournaments like the famous Champions League, that would have operated almost like a closed shop.

It would have practically guaranteed top sides would permanently play big games against other giants of the game while making it harder for challenger teams to get into their competition.

Read more: 'Wolf disguised as granny': Plans for hated European Super League revived after football fans forced clubs into U-turn

The idea was announced in April 2021 but massive fan pressure led most of those involved, including English teams Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham Hotspur, Chelsea and Manchester City, bailing on the project.

A22 Sports Management, the company responsible for the plans, took Fifa and Uefa to court after the global and European governing bodies blocked the plans.

It argued the bodies have an unfair monopoly.

The ECJ ruled: "The FIFA and UEFA rules on prior approval of interclub football competitions, such as the Super League, are contrary to EU law. They are contrary to competition law and the freedom to provide services.

"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.

"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."

A22 said: "We have won the #RightToCompete. The UEFA-monopoly is over. Football is FREE.

"Clubs are now free from the threat of sanction AND free to determine their own futures."

But the ruling does not automatically mean the super league idea will be resurrected.

Club owners were stung by a huge backlash and protests, leading to them having to issue apologetic statements and plead for forgiveness from supporters.

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