Despite a short period of calmness, the war between FIBA and Euroleague Commercial Assets (ECA), the organisation who runs the EuroLeague and EuroCup, is far from over. Various European media outlets report that the world’s basketball governing body is considering handing out bans to EuroBasket 2017 participating countries who have clubs in ECA tournaments.
Banning national teams is the only way to affect private clubs over which FIBA has no power. In most cases national federations control domestic leagues and have the power to ban clubs from taking part in these leagues. That’s where FIBA’s indirect power can manifest.
It’s not the first that FIBA is trying to put pressure on the clubs by threatening national federations with potential bans.
FIBA’s previous threats to ban national teams of the countries, that have clubs in ECA tournaments, from Rio Olympics as well as EuroBasket 2017 didn’t produce the expected results. Even though some clubs backed down after being pressed by respective national federations (French and Italian clubs being the prime example), majority of the more established clubs chose the EuroCup.
Recently national federations of Slovenia and FYR of Macedonia received new letters from FIBA asking to prevent the clubs from these countries from participating in EuroCup and Adriatic League. Should the clubs refuse to follow national federations’ orders, they are supposed to be banned from taking part in domestic leagues.
And if national federation do not take sanctions against respective clubs, they are to be punished by banning respective national teams from international competitions. In this case it’s EuroBasket 2017.
More news should come out after FIBA Europe’s assembly in Istanbul on 20 November. It will be followed by EuroBasket 2017 draw (22 November). If a decision to take sanctions against countries that have clubs in ECA tournaments is adopted, respective national teams could be banned and replaced by “Wild Card” teams in the coming EuroBasket 2017 draw.
The bans, however, should be lifted when the national federations ban the clubs who don’t follow orders.