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Spanish court blocks UEFA from punishing Super League clubs

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Madrid, Jan 31, 2023 (AFP) - A Spanish court on Tuesday barred UEFA and FIFA from punishing the promoters of the European Super League following an appeal against an earlier decision.

The ruling is the latest step in a drawn-out legal battle which had already been through two other Spanish courts and could in turn be superseded by a ruling from the European Union Court of Justice, expected in the first quarter of this year.

Tuesday's decision was in response to an appeal by the league's promoters.

The Madrid Provincial Court agreed to overturn a decision by a judge in a commercial court in April to uphold UEFA's earlier appeal against precautionary measures issued by another Spanish court shortly after the failed launch of the breakaway competition in 2021.

The magistrates reinstated the temporary prohibitions against the governing bodies of European and world football, saying that "it does not seem to us that the mode of conduct of the defendants (UEFA and FIFA) can be justified as protection of the general interests of European soccer."

"What we notice is an action that meets all the characteristics of an unjustifiable abuse by whoever holds a position of dominance," their decision said.

The Spanish ruling prevents UEFA and FIFA from taking action against the Super League pending the ruling from the European court on whether the governing body of European football abused its dominant position in trying to block the plan.

In December, in a possible indication of how the European court will rule, its top legal advisor published a non-binding opinion saying football's governing bodies acted within their rights when they threatened to expel clubs or players who joined the proposed semi-closed league Super League.

The Super League was launched in 2021 by 12 of Europe's biggest clubs, but Premier League clubs swiftly pulled out following a backlash from fans and the British government and only Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus remain public supporters of the project.

A22, a company founded earlier this year which has taken on the role of defending and promoting the Super League, welcomed the court ruling which its CEO Bernd Reichart said allowed it to "freely continue with the project of creating a new and exciting European soccer competition".

The Spanish Liga also responded saying it "accepts this precautionary pronouncement but is awaiting the resolution of the main proceedings in the Commercial Court of Madrid once the judgement of the Court of Justice of the European Union is known."

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