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Controversial Super League case kicks off at top EU court

A case considering the future of football's organization kicked off on Monday at the European Union's top court in Luxembourg, the first of two days of hearings over the controversial new European Super League.

Luxembourg, 12 July 2022 (dpa/MIA) – A case considering the future of football’s organization kicked off on Monday at the European Union’s top court in Luxembourg, the first of two days of hearings over the controversial new European Super League.

How football is run, and who gets to run the sport, is under scrutiny at the European Court of Justice (ECJ), as legal action returns plans for the contest football competition to the field of play.

The European Super League company filed a lawsuit against UEFA and FIFA at a Madrid court, arguing both the European football and world football governing body violate EU competition law with a monopoly on the organization of professional international football.

The Super League aims to determine that UEFA and FIFA opposed the Super League by having “abused their dominant position in the market for the organisation of international club football competitions in Europe and the market for the marketing of the rights associated with such competitions.”

The plaintiff has also requested legal protections to allow founding clubs to participate in the Super League as well as their respective national tournaments and league competitions.

The court in Spain moved the case to the ECJ in Luxembourg for a view on competition law. The hearings are the first early stage of the judicial process.

Twelve European clubs had in April 2021 announced the forming of a Super League but the plan collapsed within days after fierce opposition from fans, leagues and federations.

Nine of the clubs withdrew swiftly: all six English sides Manchester City, Manchester United, Liverpool, Chelsea, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal, plus AC and Inter Milan and Atlético Madrid.

But Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus are still pursuing the plan, with Real president Florentino Perez saying late last year that UEFA’s monopoly violates EU law.

The ECJ has said that all 12 clubs are shareholders of the Super League company which is taking legal action.

Football Supporters Europe (FSE), a football fan’s network, repeated previous criticism that the Super League poses “an existential threat to European men’s and women’s football” in a statement issued as the case started.

The July hearing is to be followed by an opinion from the ECJ’s advocate general in the coming months. A verdict is to come several months later.

ECJ Judges are not obliged to follow the advocate general’s opinions, which are meant to provide impartial guidance to the justices, though the court often follows their advice.

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