Soccer-UEFA seeks recusal of Madrid court judge in Super League case

FILE PHOTO: A logo is pictured outside the UEFA in Nyon, Switzerland, February 28, 2020. Picture taken February 28, 2020. REUTERS/Denis Balibouse/File Photo

MANCHESTER, England (Reuters) - UEFA has requested that the Madrid court judge presiding over the European Super League case recuse himself and has also filed an appeal with a higher court in the Spanish capital regarding what it called "significant irregularities".

On Monday, UEFA said it had nullified disciplinary action against breakaway Super League clubs Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus after the Madrid court's July ruling that European football's governing body should not sanction the rebel clubs.

UEFA had opened a probe against the three clubs but in June suspended proceedings after being notified by Swiss authorities of a court order from the court in Madrid obtained by the legal entity European Super League Company SL, set up by the rebel clubs.

That case is unlikely to lead to the immediate resurrection of the breakaway plan, which faced strong opposition from fans, football officials and politicians, but forces UEFA to defend itself from charges related to competition law, which could have an impact on any future attempts.

While UEFA says it does not recognise the jurisdiction of the 17th Mercantile Court of Madrid, that court has also asked the European Court of Justice to consider whether UEFA breached EU competition law by its actions in the Super League affair.

Juventus, Barcelona and Real Madrid are the last clubs standing of the 12 who signed up to the breakaway project in April, only for it to unravel when six Premier League sides plus Inter Milan, AC Milan and Atletico Madrid withdrew.

The 17th Mercantile Court of Madrid had ordered all financial and sporting penalties against the founding members of the Super League be dropped.

"UEFA has today made formal submissions to the Court in Madrid evidencing its ongoing compliance with the orders," the organisation said in a statement on Tuesday.

"In addition, UEFA has filed a motion for the recusal of the judge presiding over the current proceedings as it believes there are significant irregularities in these proceedings.

"In line with Spanish law -- and in the fundamental interests of justice -- UEFA fully expects the judge in question to immediately stand aside pending the full and proper consideration of this motion," UEFA added.

In May, the nine rebel clubs who had pulled out of the breakaway, including Manchester United and Liverpool, agreed to pay a combined 22 million pounds ($30.09 million) to UEFA as a "gesture of goodwill".

However 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".

(Reporting by Simon Evans, Editing by Peter Rutherford)

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