Spanish court orders Fifa, Uefa to halt opposition to Super League

28 May 2024 - 09:17
By Inti Landauro, David Latona and Trevor Stynes
Fifa's logo is seen in front of its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.
Image: Reuters/Arnd Wiegmann Fifa's logo is seen in front of its headquarters in Zurich, Switzerland.

A Spanish judge ordered soccer ruling bodies Fifa and Uefa to halt their opposition to a parallel European competition known as the European Super League (ESL), ruling they were practising anticompetitive behaviour and abusing their dominant position.

Judge Sofia Gil Garcia ruled that the governing bodies violated European Union law by banning clubs from participating in a proposed new professional soccer championship, a court statement said on Monday.

In the ruling, Gil Garcia also ordered Fifa and Uefa to immediately reverse any anticompetitive actions committed in the past.

The case was brought by A22 Sports Management, the sports development company behind the plan to create the ESL, against the Spanish Soccer Federation, Spain's LaLiga, Uefa and Fifa, who had blocked the ESL.

“The era of the monopoly is now definitively over,” A22 CEO Bernd Reichart said in a statement after the ruling, calling it “an important step towards a truly competitive and sustainable club football landscape in Europe”.

Reichart added that Uefa had stifled innovation for decades and clubs “should not have to fear threats of sanctions simply for having ideas and conversations”.

Gil Garcia's ruling followed a similar decision by the European Court of Justice in December.

Both La Liga and Uefa insisted the ruling did not explicitly support the creation of the Super League.

“The judgment does not give third parties the right to develop competitions without authorisation and does not concern any future project or indeed any modified version of an existing project,” Uefa said in a statement.

The proposal in 2021 of a breakaway league by Europe's 12 leading clubs sparked widespread protests among fans and threats of sanctions by Uefa, leading nine of them to pull out.

A22 had said Uefa and Fifa held a monopolistic position that breached the EU's Competition and Free Movement Law.

The ECJ ruled against Uefa and Fifa, though it did not comment specifically on whether the ESL could go ahead.

Real Madrid, Barcelona, Juventus and nine other top European clubs announced the plan in April, 2021.

The move collapsed within 48 hours, however, after a public outcry that forced Manchester United, Liverpool, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal, AC Milan, Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid to withdraw.