Jordi Bertomeu: EuroLeague needs Panathinaikos and vice versa

EuroLeague CEO Jordi Bertomeu hopes that the ongoing conflict involving Panathinaikos owner Dimitris Giannakopoulos will be resolved eventually.

Speaking at a press conference in Istanbul regarding a partnership with Sinpas GYO, Bertomeu was asked about Panathinaikos’ outspoken owner, who was banned for 12 months for comments made on social media platform Instagram regarding the refereeing decisions that went against his side in a loss to Fenerbahce on January 17.

Bertomeu was clear that he would like the six-time EuroLeague winners to remain in the competition but at the same time, rightfully has zero tolerance for Giannakopoulos’ current professionalism.

“This is not quite a usual situation,” Bertomeu said in a statement, transcripted by Eurohoops.

“Besides, there are some uncertainties. First of all, [I’m] not sure who to vote for this question. Firstly, I must say that EuroLeague clubs need Panathinaikos. Secondly, Panathinaikos needs EuroLeague clubs, as well. And thirdly, we cannot accept disrespectful insults towards EuroLeague as an organisation. We have no tolerance for any disrespectful behaviour towards fans, coaches or executives.”

This isn’t the first time that Giannakopoulos has been in hot water with the EuroLeague. In 2013, he was fined €150,000 for comments he made after Panathinaikos’ Game 1, Playoff encounter against Barcelona, where he questioned the impartiality on the part of the EuroLeague Basketball organisation.

Panathinaikos owner Dimitris Giannakopoulos has had many run-ins with the EuroLeague before with the referees being the main reasoning behind his outbursts.

And in 2015, Giannakopoulos burst into the referees’ locker room following Panathinaikos’ game against CSKA Moscow threatening to kill them and making derogatory comments towards their families.

This latest outburst from the Panathinaikos owner has gone to another level where he has tinkered with the idea of letting the Panathinaikos fans decide whether they should stay in the EuroLeague or play in another European competition, which would be most probably the Basketball Champions League.  

“If a team wishes to stay in the EuroLeague, that team has to stay in an environment, which is suitable for sports,” Bertomeu said. “It has to place importance on sports values. It should obey these rules, one of which is the respect. If not, the clubs cannot stay within this organisation.

“Panathinaikos is one of the most successful clubs in European basketball history. They have many accomplishments and titles. Unfortunately, we are having some problems with the owner of the club but I believe that we are going to get to the point where we will return to normal, as soon as possible. However, I must, once again, declare that we cannot accept any kind of disrespectful approach.”