The Court of Justice of the European Union comes into play in the battle between Uefa, Fifa and Superlega. Manuel Ruiz de Lara, magistrate of the Madrid Tribunal who on April 20 issued the sentence in which he ordered Fifa and Uefa “to refrain from taking any action that could jeopardize the initiative” of the Super League, addressed the Court with based in Luxembourg to clarify whether both associations have a dominant position, as they both benefit from economic rights on television contracts and the power to prevent the organization of other football competitions beyond their control. This is also based on the precedent created byEuroleague of basketball, whose clubs participate through multi-year licenses, but for which a judgment is still awaited on the appeal presented by the Uleb (association of national basketball championships) to the European Commission.
The open questions
Among the various questions posed by the judge of the Tribunal of Madrid, one focuses on Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and their interpretation. As regards the first of the two articles, “if Fifa and Uefa, as entities that attribute to each other the exclusive competence to organize and authorize international football competitions for clubs in Europe, prohibit or oppose, based on the cited provisions of its statutes, to development of the Super League “, the interpretation should be such” that these restrictions on competition can benefit from the exception established in this provision, considering that production is substantially limited, it prevents the appearance of alternative products to those offered by Fifa / Uefa in the market and innovation is restricted, preventing other formats and methods, eliminating potential competition in the market and limiting consumer choice ». Furthermore, it asks “whether this restriction benefits from an objective justification that allows it to be considered that there is no abuse of a dominant position within the meaning of Article 102 of the TFEU”.
Abuse of dominant position
According to Article 101 of the TFEU, in effect, “all agreements between companies, all decisions by associations of companies and all concerted practices which may affect trade between Member States and which object or effect of preventing, restricting or distorting competition within the internal market ‘. According to Article 102, moreover, “the abusive exploitation by one or more undertakings of a dominant position on the internal market is prohibited, insofar as it could be detrimental to trade between Member States, or on a substantial part of this ».
Meanwhile, Uefa, after having reached an agreement with nine of the twelve founding clubs of the Super League (Arsenal, Atletico Madrid, Chelsea, Inter, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Milan and Tottenham), has announced that it has initiated proceedings against the three other “rebels”, namely Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid: “According to article 31 (4) of the Uefa Disciplinary Regulations, the inspectors of the Ethics and Disciplinary Commission have been instructed to conduct a disciplinary investigation into a potential violation of Uefa regulations by real Madrid, Barcelona is Juventus in relation to the so-called Superlega project ». With the other nine clubs, on the other hand, a “Club Commitment Declaration” was signed which provides for a 5% reduction in the participation prizes in UEFA competitions, a sum that will be redistributed among the other clubs, in addition to the creation of a 15 million fund. euros for youth and grassroots football and fines of up to 100 million euros in the event that an unauthorized competition is attempted.