Super League-Uefa clash: first hearing in Madrid, but the real challenge is in Luxembourg

Today in the Spanish capital a preliminary hearing of the lawsuit brought by Juve, Real, Barcelona to the football institutions. Judge Garcia has not set the date of the trial, before the European Court of Justice must rule

From our correspondent Filippo Maria Ricci

Dialectical skirmishes awaiting the great challenge. The preliminary hearing of the procedure linked to the Superlega took place today in Madrid.

Not in the usual venue, the Plaza Castilla court, but in a small room that quickly filled up on the fourth floor of the Mercantile Court number 17, the one to which the case brought by the European Super League (ESL) ), supported by the company A22 Sports Management against Fifa (absent today) and Uefa, in turn supported by the Spanish Liga and Federcalcio. The latter two entities are in constant conflict but have decided to join forces against the Superlega project. So, meet in Gran Via, in the heart of the Spanish capital, with temperatures close to 40 degrees.

The formations

Judge Sofia Gil Garcia, the one who unlike her predecessor had lifted the ban on the possibility that Fifa and Uefa sanctioned the three clubs that are still part of the Superlega, Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus, had to establish the date of the trial and accept or fewer petitions, documents and texts of the parties. Two lawyers for the Superlega, the accusatory side, four for their opponents. Jean Louis Dupont, the Belgian lawyer who became famous with the Bosman ruling who revolutionized the world of the football market in 1995, was also in the stands in the first of the two rows of seats available to the public. Dupont supports the Super League and is convinced that we are facing a possible new Bosman case.

The date

The preliminary hearing lasted two and a half hours, with the judge busy resolving various issues between the parties. Let’s start from the end: Ms. Gil Garcia has not set the date of the trial, which she said to foresee in two sessions, one of evidence and the other of conclusions, because the Madrid trial will be strongly conditioned by the Luxembourg one. And here we open a necessary parenthesis. The lawyers of the Superlega have requested the intervention of the European Court of Justice, based in Luxembourg, called to give an opinion, which is the highest possible at continental level, on the fundamental question of this story: whether, as the founders of the Superlega claim Articles 49, 50 and 51 of Uefa are in contrast with the provisions of articles 101 and 102 of the Treaty on Functioning of the European Union. It revolves around the concepts of abuse of dominance and monopoly.

Binding opinion

The European Court of Justice will study the Superlega case on 11 and 12 July: the verdict in Luxembourg will obviously heavily affect that of Madrid, and for this reason Judge Gil Garcia did not want to set the date of the trial. If the legitimacy of UEFA’s modus operandi were to be questioned in Luxembourg, the lawsuit filed in Madrid by the Super League would take on very significant force. Otherwise it would lose virtually any legal weight.

The requests

While waiting to see how it will go in Northern Europe, in Madrid the judge admitted some of the things requested by the parties to the proceedings. La Liga will be able to call Perez Vela, an expert on football-related audiences in the Liga Tech project, to testify. The football association will do the same with Miguel Angel Gil Marin, General Manager of Atletico Madrid, the only Spanish club to leave the Superlega. The judge accepted the inclusion in the court papers of the statements by the Liverpool president on the actual “death” of the Super League (requested by Uefa), as well as those of Uefa president Ceferin who in a statement mentioned the defeat of the Super League as one of the successes of Uefa in 2021 (requested by SL).

The cause of New York

A22, on the other hand, obtained the inclusion in the trial papers of the lawsuit filed in a New York court by Charlie Stillitano, an American businessman who claims to have been threatened by Ceferin, complete with a whatsapp message attached and publicly read in which the Uefa president intimates the American not to do business with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus under penalty of the denial of any commercial partnership with Uefa. This story was revealed by the NY Times two months ago. The judge, on the other hand, rejected SL’s insistent request to present an economic report on the current state of European football, because it was prepared outside the time limits set by the procedure. Appointment in Luxembourg, where the future of the European football organization will be played. The Super League is in obvious difficulty: the European Court of Justice will determine its end or its rebirth.

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