Football: Spanish court reinstates ban on Uefa punishing Super League clubs

The Super League was launched in 2021 by 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs, but Premier League clubs swiftly pulled out following a backlash. PHOTO: REUTERS

MADRID – A Spanish court on Tuesday barred Uefa and Fifa from punishing the promoters of the European Super League following the latter’s appeal against an earlier decision.

The ruling is the latest step in a drawn-out legal battle which had already been through two other Spanish courts and could in turn be superseded by a ruling from the Court of Justice of the European Union, expected in the first quarter of 2023.

Tuesday’s decision was in response to an appeal by the league’s promoters.

The Madrid Provincial Court agreed to overturn a decision by a judge in a commercial court in April to uphold Uefa’s earlier appeal against precautionary measures issued by another Spanish court shortly after the failed launch of the breakaway competition in 2021.

Essentially, this meant that the Madrid court has backed the earlier order for Uefa and Fifa not to carry out their threats to punish teams and players taking part in the European Super League project.

Such conduct by the two bodies is “particularly serious” coming from organisations “holding a monopoly” in the football market and abusing their dominance to block a potential competitor, the judges said.

“It does not seem to us that the mode of conduct of the defendants (Uefa and Fifa) can be justified as protection of the general interests of European soccer,” their decision said.

“What we notice is an action that meets all the characteristics of an unjustifiable abuse by whoever holds a position of dominance.”

The Spanish ruling prevents Uefa and Fifa from taking action against the Super League, pending the ruling from the European court on whether the governing body of European football abused its dominant position in trying to block the plan.

In December, in a possible indication of how the European court will rule, its top legal adviser published a non-binding opinion saying football’s governing bodies acted within their rights when they threatened to expel clubs or players who joined the proposed Super League.

The Super League was launched in April 2021 by 12 of Europe’s biggest clubs, but the six English Premier League clubs swiftly pulled out following a backlash from fans and the British government and only Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus remain public supporters of the project.

A22 Sports Management, a company founded earlier in 2023 which has taken on the role of defending and promoting the Super League, welcomed the court ruling which its chief executive officer Bernd Reichart said allowed it to “freely continue with the project of creating a new and exciting European soccer competition”.

Spain’s La Liga also responded, saying it “accepts this precautionary pronouncement but is awaiting the resolution of the main proceedings in the Commercial Court of Madrid once the judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union is known”.

Uefa, meanwhile, said in a statement on Tuesday that it notes that the Madrid court’s decision “recognises the overriding significance” of the proceedings pending before the EU judges. AFP, BLOOMBERG

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