The European Court of Justice delivered a blow to football’s traditional powers on Thursday, declaring UEFA and FIFA’s bans on breakaway competitions such as the European Super League (ESL) unlawful.
This bombshell ruling has the potential to rewrite the future of the sport, with clubs now allowed to deviate from the status quo without any repercussions.
The legal saga stemmed from the 2021 ESL rebellion, where elite clubs attempted to form a closed-shop league, sparking outrage from fans and UEFA’s swift crackdown.
However, A22, the ESL’s promoters, refused to go quietly. They challenged UEFA and FIFA in the EU court, arguing their ‘closed door’ policies stifled competition and violated fair market principles.
The court’s verdict means that UEFA and FIFA’s monopoly is busted. Their rules blocking new competitions were deemed ‘arbitrary’, “unjustified restrictions’, and ultimately illegal under EU competition law.
This ruling opens a new chapter in football, where established leagues can no longer shut out potential rivals based on self-serving rules.
However, the ESL isn’t automatically back on track. The court didn’t specifically endorse the project, simply affirming the right for new leagues to compete fairly.
The onus now falls on the ESL to garner enough support from clubs, fans and investors to make it a reality.
Juventus pulled out of the ESL, but they could reconsider the decision with their finances in tatters.
UEFA and FIFA must be prepared to adapt to a new competitive environment.
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