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Spanish court asks for EU ruling on whether UEFA abused position over Super League

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A court in Madrid has asked the European justice system to rule on whether UEFA and FIFA abused their dominant position over the proposed European Super League, according to an official ruling seen by AFP on Monday.

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A Madrid Commercial Court has referred a question to the European Union’s Court of Justice for a preliminary ruling on whether EU rules prohibiting monopolies applied to the governing bodies of European and world football in relation to the aborted league.

Nine of the 12 clubs abandoned the plan within 48 hours of its official launch on April 19. They then accepted punishments from UEFA.

Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus have refused to renounce the plan and could face steeper sanctions.

Judge Manuel Ruiz de Lara asked the European court whether Articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union prohibited FIFA and UEFA from “requiring prior authorisation … for a third entity to establish a new pan-European club competition such as the Super League”

In an interim injunction on April 20, the magistrate had forbidden UEFA from taking any sanctions against the Super League clubs as well as any measures to prevent the creation of the competition.

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In his referral, the judge noted that Article 101 prohibits agreements “which have as their object or effect the prevention, restriction or distortion of competition” although the article does allow for exceptions as long as they do not lead to “eliminating competition”.

The judge asked whether a ban by FIFA and UEFA on the Super League could “benefit from the exception set out in this provision, on the grounds that it substantially limits production, prevents the emergence of alternative products to those offered by FIFA/UEFA …and restricts innovation by preventing other formats and structures, eliminating potential competition in the market and limiting consumer choice”.

The judge also asked the European Court whether UEFA and FIFA have broken Article 102 which prohibits “any abuse by one or more undertakings of a dominant position within the internal market”

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