Euroleague have released an open letter regarding the recent comments made by FIBA during their launch of the Basketball Champions League.
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, that for the last 15 seasons has overseen growth and progress as never seen before in European club competitions.
This behaviour from FIBA has intensified since last November, when the clubs rejected FIBA’s proposal to control these competitions.
In recent months we have seen how FIBA has changed from proposing a competition with guaranteed 10-year contracts for some clubs to now asserting that annual sports results should be the only criteria to participate in European competitions. In addition to a lack of credibility and coherence in its position, we have also seen FIBA repeatedly pressure and threaten clubs to renounce their right to continue freely deciding their future, thus deliberately causing a division in European basketball. 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.
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. Instead FIBA threatens those who exercise that freedom with sanctions.
FIBA has shown a lack of respect towards European basketball clubs by imposing upon them conditions and rules that it does not apply to other leagues and individuals that are a part of its organisation. This demonstrates not only a discriminatory attitude, but also an abusive and disrespectful one towards the values of transparency, coherence and unity that FIBA claims to defend.
For their part, Euroleague Basketball clubs have been focused on continuing to work peacefully on their project, convinced of the changes that they have made, always in response to the sports interests of the clubs and the obligation that they have towards fans to offer the best possible basketball competitions. On December 2, 2015, Euroleague Basketball invited all the principal Domestic Leagues to join its project and since then has collaborated closely with those who responded positively, while respecting those who preferred different alternatives and even keeping its invitation open to clubs in all leagues. Euroleague Basketball has never questioned the fact that FIBA may organise other European club competitions, as has been the case throughout the last 15 years, and welcomes FIBA to continue doing so.
At the same time, 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. Euroleague Basketball and its clubs will continue pursuing their work together regardless of FIBA’s threats with the hope that national federations remember that the clubs are the foundation of the sports system and recognise their freedom to join the competition they consider best for their fans, as all competitions exist for the good of basketball.
Euroleague Basketball’s focus and duty is to manage its competitions and deliver the best experience possible to its fans, and it is not interested in maintaining an open and continuous public debate about this abnormal situation. From now on it will only reiterate the opinion reflected in this text and dedicate all of its efforts to the upcoming launch of the evolved European competitions, the Turkish Airlines Euroleague and the Eurocup.