T.he judge of Madrid’s 17th Commercial Court, Sofia Gil Garcia, has upheld UEFA’s opposition to the injunction granted in April 2021 regarding the Super League case and has agreed to lift the restraining measures, according to the Superior Court of Justice of Madrid (TSJM).
The judge made her ruling after the hearing on April 1 with the various parties to decide whether to maintain the precautionary measure, which forced UEFA to suspend its disciplinary proceedings against real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventuswho continue to be involved in the Super League project.
The court ruling states that “there is not the slightest evidence that the threat and imposition of sanctions on the three remaining clubs entails the necessary impossibility of executing the project, the financing of which is independent,” as compared to the argument that these would frustrate the execution of the project defended by the plaintiffs – A22 Sports Management SL and European Super League Company SL
“It is insisted that the financing would be jeopardized, but the fact is that the partners and the plaintiff companies are independent legal persons and in any case, at the time of the development of the project, the intervening parties – including the financial institutions – were perfectly aware of the possible consequences, which did not prevent the adoption of financing commitments, which cannot be assumed or presumed to be frustrated by the possible sanctions, “it adds.
“Sporting merit and equal opportunities must be guaranteed.”
The judge considers the system of prior permission for alternative competitions by UEFA and FIFA to be “reasonable and justified” and “in the interests of preserving equal opportunities for the clubs involved in the sports industry,” as the economic capacity of the clubs is “very unequal” and this influences the real possibilities of developing a competition, be it funded by the individual clubs or by third parties, as is the case in this instance.
It adds that “sporting merit and equal opportunities must be guaranteed, which could be undermined by the obvious economic inequalities between participants.” “The huge economic interests that football matches provide to clubs, players and managers pose an obvious risk to the maintenance and protection of the basic principles of any sport; it is necessary to preserve them in order to prevent the aforementioned economic interest from prevailing over all of them, “she states.
In view of this, the judge maintains that “a mechanism of control of the competitions that may be organized is justified, whether by means of prior authorization by the governing bodies or by means of other systems”, so that “as a precautionary measure, it cannot be considered that the system of prior authorization by UEFA, which has not been followed in the present case, is not acceptable. “
The order dismisses complaint against UEFA‘s and FIFA‘s abuse of power
The order rejects that UEFA and FIFA have abused their power by combining commercial and regulatory functions, as the plaintiffs claim, and by organizing competitions. “It cannot be accepted as a precautionary measure that the defendants have an unjustified and arbitrary cover to prevent the entry of new competitors in the internal football market, which by its object and effect is a restriction of competition”.
Among her arguments for upholding UEFA‘s opposition to the maintenance of the injunctions, the judge considers justified “the need for institutions of control, management and organization that must ensure a system in accordance with sporting principles”. “It cannot be inferred that the existing system and control would produce anti-competitive effects, as claimed, without the plaintiffs having tried to act in accordance with the established channels. On this basis, it has already been stated that not every regulation that imposes requirements or compliance with conditions can be considered an obstacle to free competition “, he insists.
The order, against which an appeal can be lodged before the Madrid Provincial Court, was made public 20 days after the hearing to oppose the injunctions issued by the court itself a year ago, in which UEFA ratified its opposition, the co-defendants LaLiga and the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF) made allegations and the plaintiffs ESLC and A22 requested that the injunctions be maintained.
Among the precautionary measures, adopted by the former head of the court, Manuel Ruiz de Lara, UEFA and FIFA were ordered during the main trial to refrain from taking any action that would directly or indirectly hinder or obstruct the development of the Super League and prohibited the threat or adoption of any disciplinary or sanctioning measures.
Last July, Ruiz de Lara ordered UEFA to close the disciplinary proceedings against Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus, and to drop the “disguised sanctions” against the other nine clubs that resigned from the project – Arsenal, AC Milan, Chelsea, Atletico Madrid, Inter, Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United and Tottenham Hotspur.
In the case of the latter, it referred to the reduction of five percent of revenues and the contribution to the Solidarity Fund with 15 million euros and the penalty of 100 million euros in case of non-compliance if they seek to participate in the European Super League.
The pre-trial hearing will be held on 14 June, according to the judge on 12 April, in which she declared FIFA in contempt of court for failing to appear as a co-defendant within the deadline to answer the lawsuit.
Super League will appeal
The Super League organizers will appeal to the Provincial Court of Madrid against the decision of the 17th Commercial Court of Madrid.
Super League sources confirmed to EFE that they will appeal to the corresponding instance, in this case the Provincial Court of Madrid, the decision of the judge Sofia Gil Garcia known on Thursday.
“If they play other competitions, they won’t play ours”.
Aleksander Ceferin has repeatedly threatened to expel teams playing in the European Super League from UEFA competitions.
“Clubs are free to create their own tournament, but don’t expect to compete in UEFA competitions. I am tired of this football project, “he declared.