Denis Balibouse/Reuters

ALABAMA - The European Union's Court of Justice ruled on Thursday against FIFA and UEFA, two of the most important governing bodies in international soccer, regarding their blockade of the European Super League, a project led by Spanish giants Real Madrid and Barcelona and which put European competitions in jeopardy.

On April 18, 2021, twelve of the most important soccer clubs in Europe intended to break away from UEFA's control and launch their own competition. After the huge public backlash, most of the founding clubs ditched the idea to do "what was right" for the sport.

The only two clubs that stuck with the project, Real Madrid and Barcelona, just saw the top EU court rule in their favor on Thursday, arguing that FIFA and UEFA's actions towards those clubs that wanted to break from the current model were "unlawful."

In the ruling, the EU Court of Justice made it clear that FIFA and UEFA had "abused their dominant position" to block the creation of new competitions that prevents consumers from "enjoying new and potentially innovative or interesting competitions." They also noted that although the ESL has the green light, it does not mean a competition such as the ESL "must necessarily be approved."

UEFA and FIFA attempted to take disciplinary action against the rogue clubs, including potential bans from UEFA competitions as well as financial penalties. But as Stephen Taylor Heath, Head of Sports Law at JMW Solicitors told CNN, the outcome just means that FIFA and UEFA can still prevent teams from joining a breakaway league but "they can't just blanket restrict them simply because they don't want a competitor league, they would need a fairer, more reasonable justification for doing that."

Real Madrid president Florentino Pérez, on his end, said that the outcome means European soccer will "no longer be monopolized." Sports developing company A22, the main organization in charge of launching the ESL, followed Pérez' video with a new proposed format for the competition, one that it believes to be more appealing to soccer fans than the one proposed in 2021.

In the European Super League new format, 64 teams would participate in the competition, divided into 3 different tiers

Clubs around the world, some of them former founding members of the original European Soccer League, reiterated their stance against a new competition, saying it would jeopardize the structure of soccer within the continent. UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin declared that "they will not try to stop them" and wished them luck as they try to launch a new competition "with just two clubs."

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin reacts to EU's Court of Justice ruling on European Super League (Via @footballontnt on Twitter/X)

In a legal battle that has extended for over two years, Real Madrid and Barcelona will continue to fight governing bodies to make their European Super League a reality. With the new UEFA Champions League format coming into play next season, it could prove to be a key year for the ESL brigade as they try to convince soccer fans their product could be more appealing and competitive than UEFA's elite competition.

Under the new UCL format, 36 clubs will participate in a league phase (replacing the group stages), with each team playing a total of eight matches (four home, four away). To determine the opponents, UEFA will initially rank teams in four seeding pots. Each team will then play two opponents from each pot. This new format grants the opportunity for four new teams to compete in Europe's top competition every year.

One thing is for sure, both parties involved will continue to push for their competitions as European soccer enters a new era.

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