The announcement of the UEFA Super League and the 12 founding clubs prompted a complex legal and political battle, fraught with wider implications for European sport. Will the dispute between UEFA and the separatist clubs end in the courts?
What is the current status of the battle? Antoine Duval, an expert on European sports law at the Asser Institute in The Hague, says: “We are entering a pseudo-war, in which the two camps are digging their trenches and preparing for the next legal attacks.”
In a letter to the European and International Federations FIFA, the “Super League” Association indicated that it “has already submitted an application before the relevant courts, in order to ensure the smooth establishment and operation of the tournament in accordance with the laws in force.”
This step is considered an attempt to preempt the retaliatory reactions of “UEFA” and “FIFA”.
In January, the two organizations threatened to exclude dissidents from their competitions, which means, for example, that the players of those clubs will not be eligible to participate with their national teams in the World Cup or European Championships.
It is noteworthy that the message from the “Super League” did not specify whether it was directed to a national or international court. Rather, it confined itself to indicating that threats of “punitive measures” by “UEFA” and FIFA “” would be illegal, while preventing the “Super League” Going forward will cause “irreparable harm”.
Duval notes that the last wording of the words appears to be compatible with “a request for a judicial order seeking to obtain a temporary suspension of UEFA penalties from a national court.”
Indeed, the Madrid Commercial Court No. 17 ruled Tuesday that it “orders FIFA and UEFA to refrain from taking any action or action or issuing any announcement or press statement that prevents or hinders, directly or indirectly, the preparation for the Super Soccer League.”
Is the threat of separatist clubs legal?
In December, the General Court of the European Union issued a ruling that could go into effect on a precedent.
She emphasized that the International Skating Federation’s rules, which stipulate strict penalties for athletes participating in events not recognized by the federation, are inconsistent with European Union competition law. Thus, the “Super League” may seek to rely on that ruling.
Nevertheless, Duval notes that the Skating Union “allows the European Union to defend its competitions”, by invoking “two legitimate goals”: “protecting its calendar”, in the face of competition from the “Super League”, and “preserving its model in redistribution.” ».
In anticipation of these justifications, the “Super League” speech insists that its clubs “do not seek to be a substitute” for the European Champions League and the European League “Europa League”, but “compete with and exist with those tournaments.”
The new league promises “solidarity payments far beyond those offered by current European competitions,” and these two points will be the focus of intense debate in the coming days and weeks.
For her part, Katarina Petlovic, an expert in sports law at Manchester Metropolitan University, said that “even if the response of the European Union or the domestic leagues is considered legitimate, it still has to be“ proportionate ”.
She explained that “sanctions are permissible, but they must be absolutely necessary to protect the objectives of the public interest and not go too far.”
She added that if the penalties imposed on clubs, such as preventing them from participating in local leagues, “are sufficient to avoid the threat, then there is no need to impose any restrictions on the players.”
Can UEFA take legal action?
UEFA is scheduled to consult with his lawyer and has a gun in his pocket, prosecute dissident clubs under antitrust laws, through a complaint to the European Commission or a lawsuit for compensation in a national court.
“The Super League aims to distribute income to its members and exclude other potential participants from this job opportunity,” says Duvall.
And he added, “So yes, it is possible that an agreement violates the competition law,” expecting “an important dilemma in the European Commission in the coming months.”
Will the battlefield turn political?
The British Sports Minister pledged on Monday to do everything in his power to block the “Super League”, particularly through competition law or club governance reform.
On a larger scale, Duvall says, one of the side effects of European football’s internal meltdown “could be a complete rethink of its regulations, by bringing state governments back into the game.”
Although French and German clubs have moved away from the “Super League” for the time being, Paris or Berlin can seek advice from national competition organizers, or look for European ways to reinforce UEFA’s monopoly on football.
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