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⚽️ Clifford Chance show UEFA’s actions crossed the line

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If you take just one thing from this email…

The European Court of Justice's ruling against UEFA and FIFA's monopoly is a game-changer for European football. It opens the door to new competitions like the European Super League, challenging the long-standing dominance of UEFA. This decision is not just about sports; it's a landmark in legal intervention shaping the future of the sports industry.


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⚽️ Clifford Chance show UEFA’s actions crossed the line

Champions League Omg GIF by UEFA

Credit: Giphy

What's going on here?

The European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled FIFA's and UEFA's rules — which required their approval for new competitions — as unlawful. This major verdict challenges UEFA's monopoly over European football.

What’s this all about?

Well, at the moment, the best football teams in Europe play in a competition called the UEFA Champions League (which is governed by the European football association UEFA).

In 2021, 12 of the best European teams announced that they’d be joining the newly created European Super League — a competitor to the UEFA Champions League.

Many of the 12 teams quickly backed out after the public disapproval of the plans. UEFA and FIFA also threatened to sanction clubs participating in the Super League, effectively killing it.

But now, the ECJ has said that UEFA and FIFA can’t forbid the new competition from forming.

How did this verdict come about?

Well, here’s where the lawyers get involved.

Clifford Chance represented the European Superleague Company and A22 — the creators of the new competition.

The Clifford Chance team in Spain advised the organisers on all legal aspects of the project, including the legal proceedings before the European Court of Justice.

The ECJ ruled that:

  • ☝️ the market for organisation of sports tournaments should be open to alternative proposals, and therefore…

  • ✌️ European football clubs are free to create their own competitions.

What’s next?

The initial format of a 12-team Super League has been scrapped. The organisers have a new plan which involves:

  • replacing the Champions League with a 64-club men’s competition and a 32-club women’s competition,

  • streaming the Super League for free on a new platform that would make money from advertising, premium subscriptions, and sponsorships.

But football fans (especially British fans) still hate the idea. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak even said he’d ban Premier League teams from joining the project.

What’s the big picture effect?

This story highlights the importance of the legal process and the role lawyers can play in changing the face of an industry.

Sports are big business — and football is about as big as they come.

But for years, European football has been monopolised by UEFA — no one else could get in the door. Until now.

The Super League might be controversial, but this ruling means that sports are being opened up as a new area for innovation and investment (there’s planned to be $4bn (£3.1bn) put into the Super League).

We’ve seen recent changes in other sports too, like the new ‘Hundred’ format in cricket.

Is it good for the sport? Maybe - it’s hard to tell.

But could a change like this happen without lawyers? Definitely not.


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