FIBA takes note of a so-called “calendar proposal” by Euroleague Commercial Assets (ECA), which was sent to FIBA yesterday, accompanied immediately by a public press statement. We can only assume the proposal is a heavy-handed diversionary tactic at a time when the decision of ECA to create a calendar conflict has been submitted for investigation to the European Commission.
A proposal coming two months before the start of the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers – which squeezes even more than today’s qualification tournaments and main competitions for national teams in the space of 4 weeks in July (compared to 38 weeks of club competitions), intends on moving FIBA’s flagship event from September to July 2019 and even tries to change the dates of the Olympic Games – is simply not serious and therefore unacceptable.
In addition, FIBA would like to highlight that if there is a problem today, it is because of the unreasonable and disproportionate actions of ECA:
- The consultation process on the 2017-2021 calendar ended in 2014, before the FIBA World Congress. The 213 national member federations that make up FIBA adopted a calendar which is the product of lengthy consultations with all stakeholders worldwide.
- In 2015, FIBA publicly notified the exact dates of all the competitions so that all leagues could adjust accordingly.
- In autumn 2016, after its own unilateral calendar expansion, ECA confirmed both verbally and in writing to the European Commission and FIBA (see letter at the bottom of the statement) that its rules “do not prevent or limit in any way the release of players to national teams competitions”.
- In spring 2017, the domestic leagues in Europe, which need to be reinforced and protected from ECA’s aggressive and continuous expansion, also announced, through ULEB, they would adjust their calendars, which they have already done, for the benefit of the national teams’ calendar.
- However, a few weeks ago, in July 2017, ECA changed its position and proposed to its shareholder clubs a Euroleague calendar that artificially and intentionally clashes with the World Cup Qualifiers.
ECA fails to point to the most telling aspect of this matter: it can reschedule just 2 game-days of the regular season in order to solve a problem it created itself. This is not difficult at all. ECA decided last year to go from 0 to 5 double-headers in the same season in order to play more games. This season it could perfectly start one week earlier, like many domestic leagues, and add just one double-header. Other alternatives are certainly possible too. The reality is that ECA considers the national teams an unnecessary and disturbing part of the basketball family and has therefore proposed to reduce their presence in the calendar even further, marginalizing them into a small corner of the summer, which is clearly not the ideal moment for indoor sports and unnecessarily increases the players’ workload after a heavy club season.
After a memorable FIBA EuroBasket 2017, it is time to turn our attention to a great club season in Europe – both domestically and internationally with the Euroleague, Basketball Champions League, Eurocup and FIBA Europe Cup – that will count on the added value of national team games, sparking the interest for basketball in Europe and around the world every 3 months. ECA holds the key to eliminate the calendar clash and thus to free its clubs and players from this unfair situation.
It is not time for further confrontation and FIBA has no interest in continuing a public exchange which damages the image of our sport. As the world governing body for basketball, FIBA as always is ready to study and take into consideration proposals that respect national teams and domestic leagues for the period after 2021 from any basketball stakeholder, as it has done in the past.
For now, it is time to focus all our efforts on preparing for the upcoming FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers, tipping off on November 23 with 80 national teams across 5 continents and on helping our member national federations to grow basketball in each of their countries.