Super League football clubs accuse UEFA and Fifa of violating EU competition rules
Football clubs behind the European Super League will accuse sports governing bodies of breaking EU competition rules as they attempt to dismantle a “monopoly” they say blocks the creation of rival competitions.
Real Madrid, FC Barcelona and Juventus – the three clubs behind the Super League – are taking legal action against UEFA and Fifa in an attempt to fundamentally overhaul the way the sport works. A victory in this historic affair could allow them to better control the finances of the competitions in which they participate.
According to court documents seen by the Financial Times, A22, a Spain-based company that represents Super League clubs, will ask the European Court of Justice to rule on whether UEFA can continue to act as a regulator capable of imposing penalties for clubs. , while acting as a participant, taking advantage of the organization of tournaments such as the Champions League.
The Super League appeared to fall apart shortly after being unveiled in April amid protests from fans, pundits and politicians. Within days, nine of the rebel clubs – Arsenal, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atlético Madrid – announced they would drop the project.
But Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus remain committed to the concept.
According to court documents, the Super League accuses UEFA and Fifa of abusing their dominant position. “Unlike other competitive sports markets, UEFA and Fifa retain and fiercely defend a monopoly position in European football which goes against competition law, despite the efforts of other operators to gain access to the market, ”he says.
UEFA has received broad political support from European governments, 16 of which will speak at the hearing, most of them defending the “European model of sport”. Brussels will also make observations in the case “relating to the compliance of UEFA and FIFA rules with EU competition and internal market rules,” said a spokesperson for the European Commission.
A court in Madrid sent the case back to the ECJ to determine whether the statutes of UEFA and Fifa, which give them the exclusive right to organize football in Europe, are compatible with EU law.
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The ECJ’s preliminary ruling is unlikely to settle the dispute, with a similar case involving a breakaway ski competition taking place in Luxembourg court for more than seven years.
The Super League file indicated that the main objective of the legal proceedings was to determine whether UEFA and Fifa were acting in accordance with the competition rules and whether they could “legitimately exclude competition in a market which represents 1% of GDP of the European Union”.
The dossier refers to earlier attempts to break the alleged monopoly held by the two institutions, such as that in the 1990s by a group backed by Silvio Berlusconi, the former Italian prime minister and owner of AC Milan, to launch a separatist contest.
One of the A22’s arguments is that UEFA structures its competitions for the benefit of clubs from major countries as well as “state-supported” teams.
It’s unclear how the Super League would approach this issue. His original 12 clubs included Manchester City, owned by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed al-Nahyan, a billionaire member of the ruling Abu Dhabi family, and he only invited teams from England, Spain and England. Italy.
The plan was for the teams to continue playing in domestic competitions, such as the English Premier League and Spanish La Liga, but replace the UEFA Champions League.
The radical concept represented a schism with the “pyramid” structure of football, under which even the smallest teams can climb to the top of the game. A22 abandoned certain features of the original proposals, such as guaranteeing permanent places for the founding teams and allowing the “Promotion” and “relegation” from competition.
A UEFA spokesperson said the dual role of sports governing bodies has been endorsed and recognized by the European institutions. This combination of roles allows “to ensure the fair, coherent and holistic positive development of European sport”, added the person.
“The challenges of this model currently being pursued by a few elite football clubs and their funders are selfish and desperate. They represent a danger for European football and the entire European sports ecosystem.
Fifa did not respond to requests for comment.