The recent sudden death of Parick Baumann, the Secretary General of FIBA, is an opportunity for FIBA to review its structure and how it operates, according to Mindaugas Balciunas, former Secretary General of Lithuanian Basketball Federation (LBF).
While in the office, Balciunas was a leader of a group of European basketball federations who sought a complete separation of FIBA Europe from FIBA following football’s example of UEFA and FIFA. The movement was quieted by FIBA by a number of decisions such as dismissal of Nar Zanolin who was Secretary General of FIBA Europe, and absorption of FIBA Europe into a greater structure of FIBA.
Patrick Baumann was a true leader of FIBA and one of the most influential people not only in basketball but also in sports in general as he was the President of the Global Association of International Sports Federations and a member of International Olympic Committee among other positions.
“It is very sad when a young person leaves this world in his prime”, said Balciunas. “He was a very strong human being, personality, authority, charismatic diplomat. Also an intelligent lawyer. He had lots of influence, did some great jobs. No one will argue that basketball is growing very fast in Asia or that 3×3 basketball is getting stronger.”
“But Baumann’s decisions were not beneficial to Europe. What did our national federations get from a global growth of basketball? Until now – completely nothing, only we had to pay ourselves. We even used to joke that one floor in FIBA’s new office should belong to LBF because we paid them that much.
“It is indeed a very good opportunity to review the whole FIBA structure and regulations. This organization is a little bit stuck in time. I, myself, have attended more than one congress. Basically, you go there just to be informed about decisions. They are made somewhere in offices. In this regard it would be very useful for FIBA to renew itself, to bring in more democracy. Because until now the representation mechanism was only a sham.”
However, the former LBF Secretary General does not think that is what will actually happen. According to him the most likely scenario is for things to remain the same.
“The make-up of the [FIBA] Board is determined by FIBA’s managers. Even half of its members are actually from FIBA’s office. It means that the office itself is deciding who will become the Secretary General. Which is a clear collision.”
The favourites to take one of the biggest positions in world basketball, according to Balciunas, are FIBA Competitions and Sports Director Predrag Bogosavljev and FIBA National Federations & Sport Director Zoran Radovic. Both of whom used to be in Baumann’s closest circle as well as related with the former FIBA Secretary General Borislav Stankovic. The name of FIBA Legal Advisor Andreas Zagklis is also in the rumours.
“I think that FIBA’s office will try to maintain influence, there will be no surprises. Only it might be difficult to find a second strong leader such Patrick Baumann was, therefore, long term they might face difficulties”, said Balciunas who also doubted that European federations would take any actions either.
“European are not in revolutionary mode even though there is some discontentment in Balkans and elsewhere. But there is no joining part such as I used to be at the time when we initiated major changes. Then there were 28 federation on my side – enough to win election in Europe. Among them there were both big and influential ones. We had it all in our hands, yet we still failed – [they] brought us to some courts, picked on finer points.
“And now one can hear some ideas to return autonomy to Europe. Centralization at these times in no way leads to effectiveness, it’s the opposite. So far there are no real prospects for such reform, but I see that federations are starting to speak louder and louder. After these sad news about the death of Patrick Baumann they might become even more brave”, Balciunas predicted the near future of European basketball.