(photo credit: REUTERS)
The war between the Euroleague and FIBA continues to escalate after the latter has threatened to ban national teams from the European Championships should their top clubs play in the Eurocup rather than the new Champions League.
Continental club competitions will undergo sweeping changes next season, with FIBA to launch its new Basketball Champions League, while the Euroleague will change its format to include only 16 teams.
The Euroleague announced last week that the Adriatic League, German League, Spanish League and the VTB United League (the Russian league together with selected teams from Eastern Europe and Northern Europe) will each receive one direct B Licence access to the competition next season and will join the 11 A Licence clubs (Anadolu Efes Istanbul, CSKA Moscow, Olimpia Milano, FC Barcelona, Fenerbahce Istanbul, Laboral Kutxa Vitoria, Maccabi Tel Aviv, Olympiacos Piraeus, Panathinaikos Athens, Real Madrid and Zalgiris Kaunas), as well as the Eurocup champion.
Euroleague Basketball also revealed that for the Eurocup, the same four domestic leagues would earn at least three spots each in the competition. The domestic league agreements would be valid for four seasons. The rest of the available spots will be completed through individual agreements with clubs coming from France, Greece, Italy, Lithuania and Turkey, among others.
While FIBA always had little hope of attracting the top Euroleague sides to its new competition, it did aim to bring aboard many of the teams disappointed to have been left out of the Euroleague. However, last week’s announcement was a painful blow to FIBA’s aspirations, resulting in its threats to ban national teams.
Euroleague has already made an official complaint to the European Commission about FIBA in February and published an open letter on its website on Tuesday explaining its version of events.
“At the end of 2012 FIBA approved their new calendar for national team competitions – thus unilaterally breaking the agreement signed with Euroleague Basketball in 2004 – since then we have observed an increasing aggressiveness on the part of FIBA against the organisation created by Europe’s basketball clubs,” the Euroleague wrote. “This behavior from FIBA has intensified since last November, when the clubs rejected FIBA’s proposal to control these competitions.”
The Euroleague went on to blame FIBA of lacking credibility and coherence in its position, while also saying that “FIBA repeatedly pressure and threaten clubs to renounce their right to continue freely deciding their future.”
“Instead of choosing dialogue and trying to convince the clubs, FIBA’s European Board has announced a resolution that sanctions any national federation that allows its clubs to go against FIBA’s opinion,” the Euroleague added.
“FIBA states that its priority is to defend sports values, but at the same time it ignores that sports are fundamentally a free and voluntary pursuit, a right and not a duty.
Euroleague Basketball has repeatedly invited FIBA to establish a dialogue about mutual collaboration in exercising their respective responsibilities.
FIBA has not accepted the invitation to date. Now, Euroleague Basketball and its clubs can only express their sadness and disappointment about the fact that FIBA wants to resolve with sanctions a situation that it could not resolve with dialogue.”