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Bavarian Legal Works: Competition opinion favours UEFA and FIFA

Initial opinion from top European Court kicks Super League in the teeth.

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Oliver Khan and Sammy Kuffour celebrate Photo by Stuart Franklin/Getty images

The initial opinion from the European Court of Justice has held that the UEFA-FIFA structure and rules is compatible with the European Union’s competition regulations.

After the PR collapse of the ill-fated roll out of the European Super League in April of 2021, the three hold out teams (FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus) and their shell company (A22 Sports) launched a procedurally shady challenge to UEFA’s authority to regulate football in Europe. A friendly judge in Madrid (now over-ruled by a more senior Spanish judge) issued a preliminary injunction against UEFA punishing the break-away teams and referred the matter to the broader European Court of Justice to deal with the substantive issues.

After a lengthy hearing before a full panel at the ECJ, the Advocate General of the Court, Athanasios Rantos has published an initial opinion that UEFA’s structure is in compliance with Europe’s competition laws.

The functional part of his decision is as follows (as relayed by The Athletic):

The FIFA-UEFA rules under which any new competition is subject to prior approval are compatible with EU competition law. 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.”

While the opinion is not binding on the whole court, the longer, more technically complete ruling, of the whole panel normally follows that of the Advocate General.

FIFA and UEFA have made announcements praising the ruling and the European Club Association has joined in supporting the opinion saying, ‘The opinion issued today by the ECJ’s Advocate General Rantos proposes a clear rejection of the efforts of a few to undermine the foundations and historical heritage of European football for the many.’

While this is not the final collapse of this iteration of the European Super League, the ESL is staggering around the ring with blood gushing from its nose and mouth. The complete implosion of the Juventus board that supported this idea does not help their situation either. It now remains to be seen if the full ECJ will deliver the knockout blow with their full ruling expected in January.

Whatever the decision is, BFW will deliver a full breakdown upon its release. Stay tuned.

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