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Legal advisor sides with UEFA, FIFA in Super League case

BRUSSELS (AP) — A senior legal adviser proposes the European Court of Justice recognize that FIFA-UEFA rules under which the Super League project should be subject to prior approval are compatible with EU competition law.

Advocate General Athanasios Rantos said on Thursday that while Super League organizers were entitled to set up an independent competition “outside the UEFA and FIFA ecosystem, it cannot however, in parallel with the creation of such a competition, continue to participate in the football competitions organised by FIFA and UEFA without the prior authorization of those federations.”

Advocates general routinely provide legal guidance to the ECJ. Their opinions aren’t binding on the Luxembourg-based court but are followed in most cases.

The case was heard in July at the court after Super League failed at launch in April 2021. But the company formed by 12 rebel clubs — now led by Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus — started legal action and the Court of Justice was asked to rule on points of EU law by a Madrid tribunal.

The clubs accused UEFA of alleged abuses of market dominance by its control of soccer competitions that breach European law.

UEFA’s defense was that it protected the special place of sports in European society by running competitions in a pyramid structure open to all, and funded the grassroots of the game.

A final ruling is expected next year. It is the court’s most anticipated sports decision since the so-called Bosman Ruling in 1995. That case upended soccer’s transfer system, drove up pay for top players, and ultimately accelerated a wealth and competitive divide between rich clubs and the rest.

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