European Super League clubs dealt legal blow by Advocate General

Advocate general Athanasios Rantos has inflicted a severe blow on legal terms to the clubs still advocating for a European Super League, namely Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona.

The EU legal advisor sided with UEFA and advised the court to recognise the FIFA-UEFA rules under which the newly proposed Super League must be approved, compatible with European Union competition law.

Rantos, who provides regular legal counsel to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) said that the clubs were entitled to the freedom to set up a new and revised format, also known as the ‘Super League’, but neither their players nor the club as an unit will be able to participate in tournaments or events which are organised by FIFA or UEFA, as the clubs proposing for the new format are legally ‘breaking away’ from the approved governing bodies.

UEFA “warmly” welcomed the opinion, saying it was “an encouraging step towards preserving the existing dynamic and democratic governance structure of the European football pyramid.”

Rantos’ opinion reinforced the 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.” (Associated Press)

Though the words from the advisor will be non-binding in the official decision-making process, it will only strengthen UEFA’s case against the ‘super league’ teams.

What is going on in the background?

A collection of 12 European clubs announced their decision to assemble a newly formatted structure for football, the Super League, with a vision to boost revenues and curb corruption in the European club football sphere in April 2021. The proposal collapsed within 24 hours of its advent after huge protests staged by fans from around the world.

Initially, governing bodies UEFA and FIFA occluded the rebel attempt with threats to ban the clubs involved irrespective of their financial and historical stature. However, a combined case was lodged by Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus against both bodies to come to a lawful conclusion of the matter.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez emerged as the main driving force behind this movement. Perez has claimed that Super League is a necessity to obstruct the monopoly of UEFA and pave the way for a more independent set of competition, also claiming that football will ‘die’ without the Super League.

How do the latest developments affect the future of the ‘Super League’?

According to a report from the Associated Press:

‘The advocate general said the court should also state that EU competition rules do not prohibit FIFA, UEFA, their member federations or their national leagues “from issuing threats of sanctions against clubs affiliated to those federations when those clubs participate in a project to set up a new competition which would risk undermining the objectives legitimately pursued by those federations of which they are members.”

A final ruling is expected next year. It is the court’s most anticipated sports decision since the so-called Bosman Ruling in 1995. That case upended soccer’s transfer system, drove up pay for top players, and ultimately accelerated a wealth and competitive divide between rich clubs and the rest.

The court’s opinion was also a win for governing bodies of Olympic sports whose annual income can be less than the individual salary of many soccer players in Europe and are vulnerable to commercial rivals.’

This report from AP, quite elaborately, sums up the expected future prospects of this case and also provides a report concise of all the happenings to date.

What we say:

Whether it will be a win for the Super League giants or Aleksandr Ceferin-headed UEFA, it is important that such a legal dilemma shall not divert the attention of true fans of the game and sour the spirit of the beautiful game.

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