European Super League: kicking off the match against FIFA and UEFA. Exploring C-333/21 European Super League Company v FIFA and UEFA in the light of EU competition law, and its effect on the European Model of Sports.
Sammanfattning: The European Model of Sports includes features that form part of the European identity, such as inclusion, tolerance and respect. It has been developed since the 1990s, and has been a cornerstone in the sports policy documents put forward by EU institutions, and was further strengthened by the introduction of Article 165 TFEU. The European Model of Sports is now under threat after the initiation of the proceedings against FIFA and UEFA after the collapse of the European Super League in April 2021. The referred questions in Case C-333/21 highlight the compatibility of FIFA and UEFA’s prior authorisation mechanisms and the sanctions flowing from them with EU competition law, and Articles 101 and 102 TFEU in particular. The CJEU has developed an ever-changing position within sports since the 1970s, and it is against the latest case law that the CJEU is expected to make their assessment, meaning that it will explore the possible legitimate interest available to the defendants, but more importantly, the proportionality of the measures in the light of their objective. It is in this vein that this thesis argues that FIFA and UEFA are likely to be found to go beyond what is necessary to achieve their objectives by having the prior authorisation system and by threatening to impose the sanctions in question. On the other hand, it is likely that the European Super League is not going to be considered to be an appropriate alternative, as their cartel-like structure poses questions as to their compatibility with EU competition law. As such, the most appropriate outcome would be to limit the margin of discretion given to sport governing bodies by making them adhere to the general principle of proportionality, and therefore move towards a more transparent and modern European Model of Sports. In this regard, it is also possible to uphold the principle of one federation per discipline and thus the essence of the European Model of Sports, which would be a welcome outcome from the perspective of policy makers in the EU.
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