European Court to rule on whether FIFA/UEFA broke EU competition over ESL shut out

June 1 – The European Court of Justice has confirmed it has received an application to rule on the legal challenge by orchestrators of the aborted European Super League over whether FIFA and UEFA, in blocking the project, adopted an unfair monopoly that could be in breach of EU competition law.

The challenge is highly significant since the ECJ is the same body that ruled on the Bosman affair back in the mid-1990s that changed the entire landscape of European football.

Ever since the ESL died on its feet when nine of its 12 founder members withdraw within 72 hours of the competition being announced, Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has insisted the project still has legs.

The Spanish judge at the centre of the application, Manuel Ruiz de Lara, noted that opposition to the closed league hinders “potential market competition” and limits “consumer choice”.

UEFA recently launched disciplinary proceedings against Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus – the three ESL founder members still holding out – with the ultimate possible sanction of a ban from existing competitions like the Champions League.

However, in his referral, judge Ruiz asked the ECJ whether UEFA and FIFA had broken the rule which prohibits “any abuse by one or more undertakings of a dominant position within the internal market.”

The Court will have to decide whether any penalties against the three remaining Super League rebels for trying to create a competition outside of UEFA violate the free market in the territory of the EU.

The process could take months though a ruling could be accelerated if the Court takes the view that the matter needs to be dealt with urgently before the start of the next Champions League group stage.

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