Court Ruling on the Ability of UEFA and FIFA to Block the Super League

By: Natalie Zarasian

Traditions run deep in the world of international soccer, with tournaments like the UEFA Champions League being founded nearly 70 years ago.[1] In Spain, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom, soccer is the most popular sport followed by fans.[2] Further, the Champions League is in the top-five most-watched sports in Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom.[3]

April 18th, 2021 shocked the soccer community around the world when 12 of the most successful soccer clubs announced their intention to break away from UEFA’s current tournament and create their own Super League.[4] The new league would have allowed the teams to split the billions of dollars in revenue that would have gone to the Champions League.[5] This spurred many soccer officials from attempting to block such a league from being created.[6]

The Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, and the French League announced their opposition to the plan.[7]  UEFA, the entity likely to lose the most money, began looking at how to block the plan.[8] Some ideas included banning breakaway teams from domestic leagues and blocking players from competing for national teams.[9] FIFA joined in on disapproving the idea of a Super League, and stated they would have considered all measures to prevent it from happening.[10] The decision to create a Super League was also highly opposed by fans. A study conducted showed that 80% of Gen Z soccer fans opposed the creation of the league.[11]

Although the attempt in 2021 to create the Super League horribly failed after two days, there was still hope for some clubs that this could come to fruition.[12] Juventus, Real Madrid and Barcelona have argued that UEFA is operating an illegal monopoly over European soccer.[13] The EU’s “rules on competition are designed to ensure fair and equal conditions for businesses . . .”[14]

The teams are arguing that since UEFA is regulating the sport in Europe and is the most lucrative international competition, UEFA should not be able to restrict their creation of the Super League.[15]

On the other hand, UEFA’s defense arguments can stem from the fact they are “elected by the system who they answer to.”[16] The revenue UEFA receives is distributed back to clubs and organizations, which further invests that money into clubs.[17] UEFA has 4 main objectives, which include:

  1. Grow and secure long-term participation within European football.
  2. Ensure football in Europe is accessible and available to all.
  3. Lead and support the advancement of national football associations.
  4. Promote and develop football infrastructure across Europe.[18]

The Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) heard a case to answer the question as to whether FIFA and UEFA were legally allowed to block the formation of the Super League.[19] The court held that the rules demanding prior approval to establishing a new competition and prohibiting players from joining was unlawful.[20] The court found that the lack of framework on the rules of prior approval does not ensure that FIFA and EUFA are being “transparent, objective, non-discriminatory and proportionate.”[21]

While the clubs who wish to begin the Super League are very pleased with this holding, it does not necessarily mean that FIFA and UEFA could still not prevent clubs from joining.[22] The process would have to be fairer and have “a more reasonable justification for doing [so].”[23] Based on the opinion by the court, FIFA and UEFA could prepare a more streamlined process with additional framework that would allow them to reject such leagues. Although there is still a probability such leagues would be rejected by FIFA and UEFA, this could result in more breakaway leagues coming out of the woodworks.

Though supporters of the Super League may be rejoicing with this slight win, opposition to the breakaway league remains. King Charles has proposed legislation that would prevent Premier League teams from attempting to joining a breakaway league.[24] The intent of the bill is to protect the sustainability of clubs, preserve the wishes of fans, and document concerns about financial mismanagement.[25] French President Emmanuel Macron is also joining in on this fight, urging the EU to regulate this competition out of existence.[26]

As the implications of the existence of a Super League continue to have ramifications through the soccer world, both sides took some wins from the court decision. For supporters of the Super League, hope is not lost in their plight to break the mold of decades of tradition. For UEFA and FIFA, a more streamlined framework can allow them to ensure these leagues do not come to fruition. The question will remain as to who wins this match: new beginnings or tradition?

[1]  The Development of the Champions League, FutureLearn,,groups%2C%20culminating%20in%20a%20final. (This tournament was rebranded in 1992, having first been called the European Cup.); see also UEFA Champions League Winners, TopEnd Sports,

[2]   The Many Faces of Sports Fans Across Europe, YouGov Sport,

[3] Id.

[4] Issy Ronald, Patrick Sung, John Sinnott and Ben Morse, European Super League: EU’s Top Court Says FIFA and UEFA’s Rules Against Controversial Competition Were Unlawful, CNN (Dec. 21, 2023),  

[5] Tariq Panja, Top European Soccer Teams form Breakaway League, New York Times (Apr. 18, 2021),

[6] Id.

[7] Id.

[8] Id.

[9] Id.

[10] Id.

[11] Ed Dixon, Study: European Super League Opposed by 80% of Gen Z Soccer Fans, SportsPro Media (Apr. 26, 2021),

[12] Joshua Robinson, Soccer’s Super League Made Plans for the Next 23 Years. It Failed in 48 Hours., Wall Street Journal (Apr. 22, 2021),

[13] Gabriele Marcotti, European Super League Was Soccer’s Biggest Controversy in Decades. Will a Court Case Revive the Idea?, ESPN (July 11, 2022), 

[14] Preserving and Promoting Fair Competition Practice, European Union,’s%20rules%20on%20competition,the%20development%20of%20small%20businesses.

[15] Marcotti, supra note 13.

[16] Id.

[17] Id.

[18] Our Mission and Pillars, UEFA,

[19] Ronald, supra note 4.

[20] Id.

[21] The FIFA and UEFA Rules on Prior Approval of Interclub Football Competitions, such as the Super League, Are Contrary to EU Law, Court of Justice of the European Union (Dec. 21, 2023),

[22] Ronald, supra note 4.

[23] Id.

[24] James Robson, King Charles Proposes Bill That Takes Aim at European Super League, Associated Press (Nov. 8, 2023),

[25] Id.

[26] Micolas Camut & Ali Walker, France Shoots to Kill the Football Super League, Once and For All, Politico (Feb. 7, 2024),