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European Super League ban unlawful says court

Banning clubs from joining a European Super League was unlawful and UEFA and FIFA are "abusing a dominant position", the European Court of Justice has said.

It comes after a case was brought by the ESL and its backers claiming UEFA and FIFA were breaking competition law by threatening to sanction those who joined the breakaway league.

Europe's highest court found against the governing bodies. It added that did not mean a breakaway league would "necessarily be approved".

An initial report released last December by the ECJ said the rules of football's European and world governing bodies were "compatible with EU competition law".

The verdict will be seen as a blow to the authority of UEFA and FIFA and how they govern the game.

However, UEFA said it was "confident in the robustness" of rules it has brought in since the ESL was first proposed, and that they would "comply with all relevant European laws and regulations".

It added it trusted that football's existing set-up would be "safeguarded against the threat of breakaways by European and national laws".

The ESL was set to be a new midweek competition consisting of two groups of 10 teams, followed by a play-off phase.

Anger grew when details emerged that the 12 founding clubs would never have to forfeit their places in the league, locking out all but five other clubs across the whole of Europe in the process, once another three founding clubs had been confirmed.

Fans protested that the ESL would be detrimental to leagues across Europe and that greed was the driving factor for clubs joining, with no consideration for supporters.

The report said that when new competitions are "potentially entering the market" FIFA and UEFA must ensure their powers are "transparent, objective, non-discriminatory and proportionate".

The report adds: "However, the powers of FIFA and UEFA are not subject to any such criteria. FIFA and UEFA are, therefore, abusing a dominant position.

"Moreover, given their arbitrary nature, their rules on approval, control and sanctions must be held to be unjustified restrictions on the freedom to provide services.

"That does not mean that a competition such as the Super League project must necessarily be approved. The Court does not rule on that specific project in its judgment."

Bernd Reichart, chief executive of ESL backers A22, wrote on X - formerly Twitter - that the ESL "have won the right to exist".

He added: "UEFA's monopoly is over. Football is free. Clubs are now free from the threat of sanctions and free to determine their own future.

"For fans: we offer free broadcasting of all Superleague matches. For clubs: Income and solidarity expenses will be guaranteed."

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