First launched in 2021, the European Super League proposed a breakaway competition involving some of Europe’s biggest teams aimed to rival the UEFA competitions.
The European Super League (ESL) has launched a radical new plan to kickstart its return to football after a landmark court ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) decided FIFA and UEFA had violated EU competition law by forbidding the project initially.
In its ruling, the ECJ remarked: “The FIFA and UEFA rules on prior approval of interclub football competitions, such as the Super League, are contrary to EU law. They are contrary to competition law and the freedom to provide services.”
A shocking ruling that may forever change football, the 2021 proposal for the ESL quickly tumbled amid fan protests and pressure from UEFA and FIFA, including opposition from the British government.
Twelve major European sides publicly backed the project, including six Premier League clubs, which Real Madrid and Barcelona captained.
The case was first filed in May 2021 and had to decide whether Real Madrid and Barcelona could relaunch the ESL and if UEFA and FIFA could hold a monopoly over the game of football, which goes against EU law.
Now, the ECJ appears to have given the green light for the ESL to return to the light as it said: “The court observes that the organisation of interclub football competitions and the exploitation of the media rights are, quite evidently, economic activities.
“They must therefore comply with the competition rules and respect the freedoms of movement, even though the economic pursuit of sport has certain specific characteristics, such as the existence of associations having certain regulatory and control powers and the power to impose sanctions,” a statement from the ECJ added.
The ruling by the ECJ is binding and not subject to appeal.
Bernd Reichart, the chief executive of Super League promoters, A22, said on X: “We have won the right to compete. The UEFA monopoly is over. Football is free. Clubs are now free from the threat of sanction and free to determine their own futures.”
UEFA has responded to the ruling, stating that it remains resolute in its commitment to uphold the European football pyramid.
“This ruling does not signify an endorsement or validation of the so-called ‘super league’; it rather underscores a pre-existing shortfall within UEFA’s pre-authorisation framework, a technical aspect that has already been acknowledged and addressed in June 2022,” the statement said.
“UEFA remains resolute in its commitment to uphold the European football pyramid, ensuring that it continues to serve the broader interests of society. We will continue to shape the European sports model collectively with national associations, leagues, clubs, fans, players, coaches, EU institutions, governments and partners alike,” the statement added.
FIFA is yet to release a formal response.
Spanish insider Joaquin Maroto has said the ESL will be launched in 18 months as it has released a potential format.