Euroleague VS FIBA – An endless fight!
Konstantinos Panas writes about the polarization in European basketball and how it affects the clubs and the national teams.
There was a time when Euroleague and FIBA was one. FIBA initially established Euroleague in 1958. FIBA had a controlling interest in the league until 2000 when the richest and most famous clubs in Europe decided to break away from the fold and start its own league. The clubs owners found a loophole because FIBA never trademarked the “Euroleague, ” so the clubs simply took the name and forced FIBA to find a new name and new league.
FIBA created the FIBA Superleague, and for one season, Europe had two top level competitions. After a few years of going back and forth without a solution, FIBA and Euroleague came up with an agreement. FIBA would stay in control of National Team tournaments like (FIBA Eurobasket, World Championships, and Olympics) and Euroleague would take over the professional club competitions. Both organizations remained at peace until 2015.
2015, FIBA made a moved to regain control of the professional club competitions and formed “The Basketball Championship League.” FIBA attempted to step on the Euroleague toes by making a run their top 11 teams by offering a different league format and bigger profits for each team. FIBA’s move forced Euroleague to react, Euroleague signed a 10-year agreement with IMG to up the revenue growth for its clubs and also changed the format of the league. The teams accepted the changes, and despite the potential profit gain and the intrigue of the upstart league, the top level European clubs decided to stay with Euroleague.
Because FIBA couldn’t persuade the top clubs to leave Euroleague or EuroCup, FIBA decided to force teams and leagues to participate in the Basketball Championship League. FIBA is the highest authority in basketball, and with this power, they have the ability to put bans or punish teams or players for not following its rules or mandates. FIBA threaten to suspend 14 of the top basketball federations for supporting the Euroleague and EuroCup competitions.
In the end, no suspensions were applied, but the threat did its job in putting the president’s of the Federations on notice. Many of them mandating that teams and players participate in the FIBA Championship League, threatening suspensions for players from national teams who clubs team did not compete in the FIBA league. For example, the Spanish Federation asked the ACB league to break off its agreement with Euroleague to satisfy FIBA. The Russia Federation threaten to suspend any player from the national team whose club participated in the EuroCup. As well as The Hellenic (Greek) Basketball Federation threatened to ban AEK Athens from the Greek Basket League if it did not switch from EuroCup to the FIBA Champions League. FIBA’s internal pressure on the basketball federation forced the Presidents of the National put the clubs team in an unfair position. FIBA used its position of power to leverage the teams who were unwilling to join their Championship League, by forcing them to join.
Next FIBA, changed the qualification system for the 2019 World Cup. In the past FIBA held the qualifications events during the summer months or the offseason for the Euroleague and EuroCup seasons. The old system allowed players to play for the club teams without interruption and then play for their national teams during the summer months. FIBA decided to change the qualification schedule, now using six weekends during the club season schedule. Putting the teams and national teams in a terrible predicament. The team would have to decide whether they are going to permit their top players to play for the national teams or make do without during crucial part of the Euroleague/EuroCup seasons and vice versa for the national teams. How would the national team fair without their top players during the qualification period? How would this affect team chemistry and the way coaches build and select their national teams in the future. The Euroleague has already made a clear statement that it will not postpone any league games for FIBA national team competitions and will not allow its players to be loaned to their national teams during the Euroleague season.
So what now, with no solution in sight, what will happen between the two organizations? Who will take control of basketball in Europe? Not sure, if anyone can make an accurate prediction of what will happen next in the endless battle between FIBA and Euroleague, but it will be interesting to watch how it will affect European players and the overall landscape of European Basketball.