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The Super League before the Court of Justice of the EU

The Super League project was not completely abandoned. The Court of Justice of the European Union will have to rule on the appeal of a Spanish court, with which a precedent already exists.

Last April, Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez announced the birth of the soccer Superlega, a tournament made up of twelve European teams, including three Italian teams: Juventus, Inter and Milan.

The news immediately stirred the world of football and beyond. In addition to UEFA, several European leaders have spoken out against the establishment of a tournament between the big players, including British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. Alongside these, criticisms from fans have also been raised: in a survey conducted by La7, in fact, 58% of football fans declared themselves against the Super League.

Following the chorus of contrary voices, gradually all the teams withdrew from the competition, causing the project to be wrecked in the bud. However, the establishment of a Super League has not been definitively ruled out.

THE REASONS OF THE SUPER LEAGUE

The main reason why the twelve teams have pushed for the birth of a completely new tournament is purely economic in nature. The birth of the Super League would have been subordinated to a loan from the American bank JP Morgan for a value of 4 billion dollars, to be subsequently shared among the participating teams.

This agreement was very advantageous compared to the current figures received by the same teams for participation in the Champions League. Similarly, the agreement signed on 17 April is still binding. In fact, there are penalties of around 300 million euros in case of exit from the competition.

THE REFERENCE FOR A RULING TO THE COURT OF LUXEMBOURG

The issue of the Super League did not stop in the face of the voices of protest and indignation. On 11 May, in fact, the commercial court of Madrid was charged with the case following a precautionary injunction by the European Super League Company SL, a company created specifically for the competition.

The magistrate Manuel Ruiz de Lara, in charge of the case, felt he had to raise a request for a preliminary ruling in the European Union Court of Justice against the world football bodies. In particular, UEFA and FIFA are accused of violating Articles 101 and 102 of the TFEU (Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union), especially in the latter where the abuse of a dominant position by an economic entity is explicitly prohibited.

The main complaint arises from the fact that UEFA and FIFA, by blocking the Super League project, would have prevented free competition from the single market within the EU.

THE ANTECEDENT

There is also a recent and very important precedent in this regard in sports law. In December 2020 the same Court of Justice recognized the illegitimacy of a rule of the International Skating Union, which provided for the absolute prohibition of its professional athletes from taking part in sporting events not authorized by the same. In fact, the athletes had turned to the European court, which recognized the illegality of this rule precisely because it was in contrast with Articles 101 and 102 of the TFEU.

If the Court were to rule in favor, as has already happened in the case of skaters, the balance of the most popular sport in Europe could change definitively. The Court of Justice of the EU could redesign the world of football just as it did in 1995 with the famous Bosman ruling, through which the Luxembourg judges introduced the legitimacy of the so-called free transfer (previously not contemplated in the practice of exchanges between players).

Translated by Veronica Giustiniani


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  • L'Autore

    Federico Quagliarini

    Federico Quagliarini è attualmente laureando in Giurisprudenza presso la Statale di Milano. Durante il suo percorso universitario ha sviluppato un forte interesse per il diritto internazionale in particolar modo per le questioni legate agli aspetti economici. In Mondo Internazionale ricopre il ruolo di caporedattore presso l'area Legge e Società.

    Federico Quagliarini is a grad student in law at University of Milan. Throughtout his studies he has developed a deep interest in international law, in particular for economic aspects. At Mondo Internazionale he is chief editor in the area Legge e Società.

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