ECA and FIFA hail latest blow to project, but dissident leaders remain hopeful

The powerful European Club Association hailed the latest European Super League setback as “a clear rejection” of the plans of “a few interested parties”.

UEFA and FIFA would act legally by freezing the proposed competition and its teams, EU Court of Justice Advocate General Athanasios Rantos said on Thursday.

Formally announcing its non-binding opinion in Luxembourg, ahead of a judgment expected in the new year, Rantos was responding to a request from a Madrid court to determine whether FIFA and UEFA would have the right to act under competition law . and fundamental freedoms.

European Super League (ESLC) officials have argued that such actions should be considered anti-competitive and incompatible with EU competition law.

Responding to Rantos’ opinion, the European Club Association (ECA) said the message offered “a clear rejection of the efforts of the few to undermine the foundations and historic legacy of European football for the many. “.

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus are no longer ECA members, having resigned when the breakaway was announced in April 2021 and retained an interest in the breakaway taking off even after its near-immediate dramatic collapse.

The nine clubs that fled the Super League project have returned to the fold of the ECA after withdrawing their resignations from the group. These clubs are Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United, Manchester City, Tottenham, Atletico Madrid, Inter and Milan.

The ECA, which represents nearly 250 clubs, said it remained “explicit in its strong opposition to the few stakeholders who seek to disrupt European club football and undermine the values ​​that underpin it”.

In a statement, he added: “ECA stands for the responsible and progressive development of football and remains firmly of the belief that in Europe this should be achieved alongside and in partnership with UEFA as the legitimate governing body. , with other players in professional football, and European and governmental institutions.

“A lot of positive reform and progress has been made by ECA working in partnership with UEFA over the past few years to benefit the whole European football ecosystem.”

FIFA also said it welcomed the news from Luxembourg. He supported the view that any new competition would require the approval of global and European governing bodies, and that sanctions could be imposed if this was not the case.

FIFA welcomed Rantos’ observation “of the special nature of sport, including the pyramid structure, which preserves the nature of sporting merit and open competitions accessible to all, as well as the principles of promotion and relegation, balance competitiveness and financial solidarity”.

Bernd Reichart, CEO of A22 Sports Management, the company set up to carry out the Super League project, believes it can still be achieved.

Clubs from Europe’s top leagues are said to be targeted for involvement, with opponents fearing it will weaken existing competitions.

Reichart said: “The Advocate General’s opinion is a step in an ongoing case, and we welcome the recognition of the right of third parties to organize pan-European club competitions.

“The Advocate General clarified that UEFA has a monopolistic position which comes with significant responsibilities to allow third parties to operate freely in the market.

“However, we believe that the 15 Grand Chamber judges who are charged with looking into this case will go much further and give clubs the opportunity to manage their own destiny in Europe.”

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