Legal Showdown: European Court's Decision on Soccer's Super League Saga

The Super League was formed on April 18, 2021 by 12 clubs: Barcelona, Real, Atlético, Juventus, Inter Milan, Manchester United, Manchester City, Chelsea, Tottenham, Liverpool and Arsenal then announced their exit from the UEFA system

by Sededin Dedovic
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Legal Showdown: European Court's Decision on Soccer's Super League Saga
© Matthias Hangst / Getty Images

In a landmark decision set to shape the course of European soccer, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) is set to deliver its verdict in the long-awaited legal battle between the breakaway Super League and the Union of European Soccer Associations (UEFA).

The outcome of this judgment is crucial for determining the trajectory of soccer on the Old Continent. The case pits the Super League, a breakaway competition formed by 12 elite clubs including Barcelona, Real Madrid, Manchester United, and Juventus, against UEFA's established soccer framework.

The Super League, launched on 18 April 2021, aimed to create an independent and closed club competition, challenging the authority of UEFA and FIFA.

UEFA and FIFA have the right to expel teams from their competitions.

In December 2022, Advocate General Athanasios Ransos of the ECJ expressed the view that UEFA's actions were in line with European law, confirming its right to regulate soccer competitions.

Ransos acknowledged the right of clubs to organize their own leagues, but stressed that UEFA, along with FIFA and national associations, retained the power to expel clubs from their competitions. Although the Ransos opinion is not binding, historical precedent suggests that ECJ judges often agree with the Advocate General's assessment.

The formation of the Super League provoked a swift and intense reaction from fans, soccer associations, governing bodies, and even state governments. In response, UEFA, FIFA, and national associations took punitive measures, banning players from national teams and expelling clubs from domestic competitions.

The situation began to turn around because the clubs, under pressure from various interested parties, withdrew from the Super League project. English clubs were the first to leave, followed by Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan, and AC Milan.

Juventus recently followed suit, reaching a truce with UEFA and agreeing not to participate in other commercial competitions or face a hefty fine. The remaining stalwarts, Barcelona and Real Madrid, took a defiant stance, refusing to negotiate with UEFA.

They launched a legal battle, claiming that UEFA and FIFA broke European Union laws by monopolizing soccer competitions. The ECJ's upcoming ruling will determine whether European soccer will continue on its established path or take a new direction similar to basketball's separation from FIBA.

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