BSL Israel was surprised on Friday to receive ULEB’s announcement that Galil-Gilboa team will not be able to participate this season in the EuroCup competition, as opposed to previous decisions of the Euroleague Executive Board, according to which Israel will have two representatives in the competition this season, one in the regular season and the other in the preliminary stage.
A meeting between representatives of BSL Israel and an international sports expert was held on Thursday, and was followed by a phone conversation of about an hour on Friday between Mr. Avner Kopel, BSL Chairman, and Mr. Jordi Bertomeu, the Euroleague CEO, regarding this matter.
Mr. Bertomeu raised three main arguments backing the decision to deprive Galil-Gilboa team of its place in the regular season, thus, depriving the place of Israel. The first argument was that since Maccabi Haifa Heat, the team that has arrived at the higher place in the Super League, has waived its participation, according to the Euroleague Regulations, its place should turn into a Wild Card according to Euroleague’s considerations.
His second argument was that Galil-Gilboa team has not completed filling the forms as required, and the third argument was that in the previous time in which Galil-Gilboa team has participated in the ULEB Cup competition, it has not complied with the regulations in regards to its arena, its capacity as well as a luck of basic conditions for the visiting European teams.
Mr. Bertomeu added that in view of Mr. Kopel’s personal request, Hapoel Jerusalem team was advanced from the FIBA competition to the preliminary stage of the EuroCup according to a Wild Card.
Mr. Kopel has rejected Mr. Bertomeu’s arguments and presented several other arguments. Mr. Kopel argued that only BSL Israel can determine which team will represent Israel in each one of the competitions, and that Maccabi Haifa team did not leave the EuroCup competition as it has never even registered to it. Mr. Kopel further explained to Mr. Bertomeu that the case of Maccabi Haifa team resembles the case of Hapoel Holon, which has waived its place in the competition a year ago, yet, then Israel’s place was not cancelled and Bnei-Hasharon had taken its place.
Furthermore, Mr. Kopel explained to Mr. Bertomeu that it is unconceivable that BSL Israel has not been informed about the fact that Galil-Gilboa team has not properly registered to the EuroCup competition. If information about this matter had been received, BSL Israel would have made sure that the forms are properly filled and sent, thus, the team should not be disqualified due to this technicality. Moreover, there was no reason for announcing the disqualification of Galil-Gilboa team on the FIBA web site prior to informing BSL Israel about that.
BSL Israel insists that the understating that has been achieved during several meetings of the Euroleague Executive Board, according to which Israel has two representatives in EuroCup this season, will be implemented, and that the decision that has been made without calling for a meeting of the directorate of the ULEB, was too hasty and imprudent.
Despite the disagreements between Mr. Kopel and Mr. Bertomeu, their conversation was pleasant. Due to the agreeable working relationship between BSL Israel and the Euroleague management, it has been agreed upon that a final answer in this matter will be given within 48 hours. Mr. Chaim Ohayon, the Chairman of Galil-Gilboa team, was informed about it.
BSL Israel keeps investigating this matter, and it basically objects the idea that a team that arrived at a lower place in the Super League, would be advanced to a higher place in a European competition due to a Wild Card it has received. BSL Israel hopes that due to the good relations between the parties, this matter will come to its end shortly, yet, it is also aware of the fact that the situation might create discomfort in regards to the participation of Winner League teams in the various competitions. Therefore, Maccabi Electra Tel-Aviv team, the senior team that is representing Winner League in Euroleague and might also be affected, was also informed about this turn of events.
The heads of BSL Israel will participate in the meeting of the directorate of the Euroleague this coming Tuesday, one day before the draw of the games in Barcelona. They will continue the debate there in person, in order to enable Galil-Gilboa team to receive the place it deserves.