In a landmark ruling, the European Union’s top court has ruled against FIFA and UEFA, stating that their regulations demanding prior approval for establishing a new competition, such as the European Super League (ESL), and prohibiting clubs and players from playing in them, were “unlawful.” The CJEU’s judgment was keenly anticipated by soccer clubs, fans, and governing bodies due to its profound implications for the future of European soccer.
Real Madrid and Barcelona, the clubs who most vehemently supported the original ESL, have voiced their satisfaction with the ruling. At the same time, fan groups such as the Football Supporters Association have reiterated their opposition to an “ill-conceived breakaway super league.” The ruling could also mean that FIFA and UEFA could still prevent clubs from joining a breakaway league, but they would have to do so using a fairer process and a more reasonable justification for doing so.
The proposed ESL, announced in April 2021, aimed to guarantee 15 clubs a place in the 20-team competition every season, regardless of performance on the pitch. However, after vehement opposition from fans and the wider public, the plans were scrapped just 48 hours later, though Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona remain committed to the project. The ESL was criticized at the time as undermining the promotion and relegation principle underpinning soccer and ensuring the sport retains equality between the clubs.
The CJEU’s ruling is a significant victory for those who oppose the formation of a breakaway league, and it remains to be seen how FIFA and UEFA will respond to it. However, with the proposed mid-week, continent-wide competition that A22 has launched, it seems that the fight for European soccer is far from over.