Uefa, European soccer’s governing body, has ended legal proceedings against Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid and Italy’s Juventus over their continued involvement in the controversial European Super League project.
The continental body took legal action against the trio, which are the only teams still persisting with plans to form the breakaway league, but has been forced to step away after a Madrid court ruled that it should not sanction the rebel clubs.
Uefa brought proceedings against the three sides but suspended its action in June after being notified by Swiss authorities of a court order from the commercial court in Madrid obtained by the legal entity European Super League Company SL.
A Madrid judge told the body in late July that it had to officially announce, via its website, the dropping of all financial and sporting penalties against the dozen clubs which initiated the aborted Super League project, which rose and fell in April this year.
As well as the aforementioned clubs, the 12 teams initially included AC Milan and Inter Milan from Italy’s Serie A, Atletico Madrid from Spain’s Laliga, and Chelsea, Tottenham, Arsenal, Manchester City, Manchester United and Liverpool from England’s Premier League.
Uefa initially rejected the Spanish court order and had no intention of carrying it out and was confident that a final ruling on the matter by the European Court of Justice in October would have come down in their favour, and seen off the Madrid court’s challenge.
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However, the governing body has now backed down and released a statement yesterday declaring that the case is now “null and void”.
Uefa’s appeals body said: “Uefa takes note of the letter sent today by the independent Uefa Appeals Body in which the disciplinary proceedings that had been opened against Barcelona, Juventus and Real Madrid for a potential violation of Uefa’s legal framework in connection with the so-called ‘Super League’ project have been declared null and void, without any prejudice, as if the proceedings had never been opened.”
Both the Premier League and Serie A have already imposed their own penalties on the respective clubs involved – financial in the English league’s case, while the three Italian sides have been told they face expulsion from the top division if they get involved in any similar future projects.
After the project, which would have seen the creation of a 15-team closed league with no promotion or relegation, was first announced, the 12 clubs involved faced an immediate hostile backlash from almost all soccer stakeholders and authorities, and so all except Juventus, Real and Barcelona withdrew within days.
The nine clubs who withdrew then accepted punishments from Uefa, agreeing to 5 per cent of their revenue from Uefa competitions being withheld from 2023-24 and fines of up to €100 million ($117.1 million) if they sign up to a similar project in the future.
The teams agreed to pay a combined £22 million ($30.09 million) to Uefa as a "gesture of goodwill" and also agreed to donate €15 million to youth and grassroots football across the continent.
However, the Spanish court ruled that Uefa had no basis to impose these punishments and said it must immediately withdraw them.
On Monday, Uefa said that "in view of the pending court proceedings in Madrid, and to avoid any unnecessary complication … Uefa will not request payment of any of the amounts offered".
It added that it "remains confident in and will continue to defend its position in all the relevant jurisdictions".
Uefa’s statement continued: "Uefa understands why the disciplinary proceedings are declared null and void.
“Uefa has always acted in good faith and reasonably understood that the decision by its independent disciplinary body, the Uefa Appeals Body, to suspend the disciplinary proceedings was in full compliance with the court orders of the Madrid Commercial Court No. 17, and given that the three mentioned clubs have since been admitted to Uefa club competitions.
“Uefa maintains its view that it has always acted in accordance with not only its statutes and regulations, but also with EU law, the European Convention on Human Rights and Swiss law in connection with the so-called Super League project.
“Uefa remains confident in and will continue to defend its position in all the relevant jurisdictions.”
In a further statement released today, Uefa revealed it had "filed a motion for the recusal of the judge presiding over the current proceedings as it believes there are significant irregularities in these proceedings” and “fully expects the judge in question to immediately stand aside pending the full and proper consideration of this motion."