Soccer dispute should be handled through arbitration: EU

The bitter battle for control of the game and its lucrative revenue entered a new phase with a letter sent by the 12 clubs to UEFA on Monday in which they said they would take legal steps in unnamed courts to protect their interests as they set up the league.

The breakaway has been heavily criticised by soccer authorities, fan organisations and politicians across Europe who say it entrenches the wealth and power of a small elite of clubs.

A spokesman for the European Union's executive said there should 'solidarity from top to the bottom so that everybody gets a chance basically to take part.'

"These traditions of how people engage with sport at all levels need to be maintained as they are part of the European DNA," EU Commission spokeswoman Sonya Gospodinova said.

UEFA is ready to fight the breakaway and said on Sunday that it will "consider all measures available to us, at all levels, both judicial and sporting in order to prevent this happening".

Video Transcript

GOSPODINOVA SONYA: Sports including football is part of the fabric of society. The commission defends a European model of sports, which is unique in several ways. The main principles of this model are the principle of autonomy, of openness, of solidarity, and the interdependence of the international federations. I'd like all parties to take into account these principles when assessing the potential impact of such a proposal. And, uh, I would like to mention as well that disputes which are related to the governance of sport can usually be best resolved during arbitration bodies and also through the national courts.

- Sports and competitions should be organized in a way to, um, to allow openness, um, of participants-- of clubs participating, and that we should have this-- this solidarity from the top to the bottom so that everybody gets the chance basically to-- to take part. Now, you can draw your own conclusions on what this means. Obviously, from a legal point of view, uh, it is a different-- it is a different matter. Um, and there, the principles of competition law, um, are the ones which we would have to look at when assessing the-- the project if it ever came, um, if it ever came to that.