Superliga War Against UEFA, A Before and After in European Soccer

From the Court of Justice of the European Union Began the Struggle for Power Between the two Fronts, an Unprecedented Situation that, Beyond the Result, will Change the Order in Soccer on the Old Continent as the Bosman Law did at the Time.

Logo of the 'Superliga' and 'UEFA'

Photo: Latin American Post

LatinAmerican Post | Onofre Zambrano

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Leer en español: Batalla Superliga contra UEFA, un antes y después en el fútbol europeo

The fight is just beginning. 15 months ago, in April 2021, a project called Superliga failed to launch, but made it clear that it would not stay in an attemp . Now, the company formed by 12 of the most powerful clubs in Europe has returned to the news after taking the case before the Court of Justice of the European Union in Luxembourg.

The organizing body of the Champions League, the European Union of Associated Football (UEFA), awaits a tough legal battle that could lead to the most radical change for the elite soccer of the old continent in more than 25 years. Judges from 15 of the 27 member states have already heard the arguments, with the majority of those national governments supporting UEFA.

The group of powerful clubs, led by Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus, accuse the governing body of European soccer of exceeding the control of competitions which breaks European legislation. UEFA, in turn, claims that it is the protector of the sport by managing tournaments with a pyramid structure that ensures open competition, but who is right?

From the Bosman Law

European soccer has not been in such a high-impact situation since the Bosman Law, a community law sentence issued by the Court of Justice of the European Union on December 15, 1995 after a lawsuit by former Belgian player Jean Marc Bosman who alleged freedom of action to his club at the end of his contract, forcing the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) to change several of its rules.

Since then, European soccer players have been free to exercise their profession in any state of the European Union, being illegal the payment of indemnities for the transfer of players, therefore, any citizen of the European Union can exercise their profession without restriction.

The impact of this sentence in the European leagues was not immediate, but as the years passed, players from different countries began to negotiate contracts with European clubs, and as is logical, the clubs with the most money keep the best players, reality that is currently experienced with entities such as Manchester City, Chelsea or Paris Saint Germain mainly, in addition to the three mentioned above, among others.

Therefore, the Super League proposal will be the most anticipated legal determination since the Bosman Case . As you can see, that ruling revolutionized the transfer system and made the stars' salaries skyrocket, accelerating the economic gap between the rich clubs and the rest. Since the 1990s, clubs have threatened new tournaments as a means of putting pressure on UEFA and its flagship competition: the Champions League.

Wait time

The Bosman case took almost five years to reach the ruling, so the issue of the Super League and UEFA will not be broadcast this year and will not affect the plaintiff teams that compete in the traditional UEFA tournaments that start in September. Ten of them are in the group stage of the Champions League, while Manchester United and Arsenal qualified for the Europa League.

But it seems that this situation will not continue for long because these clubs want to separate themselves from UEFA to organize their own competition, which would be governed by the model of the professional leagues in the United States. Since its inception, the project of the Super League has broken the working agreement that the European Club Association signed with UEFA, as well as the statute that prevents "prohibited groups" of clubs in an unauthorized tournament.

The waiting time in the justice will allow the clubs to refine the strategy to improve the conditions they have with UEFA and that at first glance look quite favorable with more places, four in total for England, Spain, Italy and Germany plus a distribution of prizes that benefit them over the rest, such as, for example, a greater number of matches from 2024.

Four billion euros -as an advance investment- received the Super League from the JP Morgan bank, higher than what the Champions League offers, which distributes two billion euros in prizes among 32 clubs, while in this new competition the distribution would be only among 20 teams, the 15 partners forever and the remaining five who would be invited each year according to performance and other conditions.

"Renewed or die"

The father of the idea, the president of Real Madrid Florentino Pérez, was blunt about the purpose of the initiative. "It is not a new competition, but rather the goal is to increase the number of the few competitive matches that exist in the Champions League. Soccer is a continual renovation and it is to renew or die," Pérez explained to Cadena Ser. The Superliga is represented by the European Superleague Company, SL

For the leader, this is an issue that "must be discussed, with dialogue, as Real Madrid has always done. Santiago Bernabéu worked hard to create the European Cup", and before finishing he left a message for Alexander Ceferin, president of the UEFA "He has congratulated me on the new Champions League that Madrid won, but I haven't talked to him about the Super League these days and that is something pending."

What is being decided in Luxembourg is whether the ground-breaking project that Real Madrid, Barça and Juventus still support on the front line - the remaining nine clubs publicly resigned but have not signed their exit - really violates the guidelines for the development of sport in the European Union, as defended by UEFA and FIFA, or if it is the two organizations that incur a monopoly and abuse of position as organizers of international competitions.

The Super League assures that they will take more into account the sporting criteria to be able to participate, although they have not yet made it public in this new, more open format, but UEFA has been more forceful and established a regulatory framework that could influence the processes in Spain and Luxembourg, and that is interpreted as a handshake to the European authorities to be able to establish itself as the guardian of the international competitions of European clubs.