The Court of Justice of the European Union has ruled that “the rules of FIFA and UEFA” which make any new interclub competition, such as the Super League, subject to their prior approval and which prohibit clubs and players from playing in those competitions “are unlawful and infringe Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.”
Moreover, the Court also ruled that “the rules giving FIFA and UEFA exclusive control over the commercial exploitation of the rights relating to those competitions are liable to restrict competition” and are therefore unlawful. This determination is of the utmost importance.
In other words, UEFA and FIFA will not be able to maintain exclusive control of the commercial rights to the new competitions, and they will have to be careful with the current ones. The ruling doesn’t say the Super League or any other competition is legal. What it does say is that creating other official soccer competitions is the freedom of the clubs. And that FIFA and UEFA cannot punish either clubs or players for playing in these competitions. The clubs are now much more robust in imposing rules.
This doesn’t mean the end of national club championships for the time being, but it could mean that some less critical competitions organized by national and European leagues could be replaced by more interesting ones that attract more spectators. Putting new ideas into practice is also no longer exclusive. The Court’s decision does not have direct application, as in practice, it will depend on the final decision of the Commercial Court No. 17 in Madrid, but it does have general application, as all courts in the countries of the European Union are obliged to follow it. Hence its enormous importance.
FIFA, UEFA and the FPF don’t exist by chance. They exist because they are needed to organize national and international competitions and regulate soccer, sports justice, discipline, and refereeing without forgetting their crucial social role. Without them, it would be chaos; fortunately, these institutions will continue to exist. Now, they will have less exclusive power – and the repetition of exclusive is deliberate – to regulate soccer-related matters.
Yesterday’s decision could result in good things for soccer, Portuguese clubs and fans. In other words, more Portuguese clubs in international competitions, better national competitions, more revenue and better results. However, I want to emphasize something important: soccer is more than just a business in Portugal and Europe. It’s pure passion. That counts, too.
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