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Thu, December 21, 2023

Court rules FIFA and UEFA rules banning breakaway leagues are unlawful

Court rules FIFA and UEFA rules banning breakaway leagues are unlawful

The European Court of Justice has ruled that UEFA and FIFA banning clubs from joining a breakaway league is unlawful. 

The rules were brought in following the failed European Super League but league backers A22 claimed the rules were breaching competition law as UEFA and FIFA were abusing a dominant position with the court ruling in favour of A22. A22 chief executive Bernd Reichart wrote on X “UEFA’s monopoly is over. Football is free. Clubs are now free from the threat of sanctions and free to determine their own future. For fans: we offer free broadcasting of all Super League matches. For clubs: Income and solidarity expenses will be guaranteed.”

Whilst the verdict is a huge boost for the European Super League it does not necessarily mean that one will be imminent as teams saw the level of fan backlash in April 2021 with the failed attempt. The verdict was also damning of FIFA and UEFA detailing that the rules around commercial rights are anti-competitive and raising concerns that there is no one to check that they are operating legally unless a case is taken to court. 

A driving force behind the creation of a new European competition, Barcelona have released this statement confirming their position as one of the biggest clubs in favour of the ESL. 

“As one of the clubs driving the Super League project, FC Barcelona feels that the sentence paves the way for a new elite level football competition in Europe by opposing the monopoly over the football world, and wishes to initiate new discussions as to the path that European competitions should take in the future.” (The full statement can be found here)

The UK government department of Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has released plans to bring forward legislation for an independent regulator in English football.

Their statement says: “We note the decision by the European Court of Justice’s judgement in regard to the European Super League.”

“The attempt to create a breakaway competition was a defining moment in English football and was universally condemned by fans, clubs and the government.”

“We took decisive action at the time by triggering the fan-led review of football governance, which called for an independent regulator in English football.”

“We will shortly be bringing forward legislation which makes this a reality, and will stop clubs from joining any similar breakaway competitions in the future.”

Following today’s ruling, The European Super League (ESL) have launched a new plan for men’s and women’s midweek European Competitions. In a change from the previous European Super League plans, participation will apparently be based on sporting merit, there will be no permanent members and the league will feature promotion and relegation. Fans will be able to view live matches for free on a new state-of-the-art digital streaming platform. 

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