FIBA hits out at Euroleague for ‘heavy-handed’ calendar proposal
FIBA, the international basketball federation, has accused Euroleague Basketball, the organiser of the elite European clubs competition, of deliberately trying to create a conflict in the global calendar after the latter proposed a new schedule to its stakeholders.
FIBA is introducing a new calendar which comes into effect this year and includes spaces for national team games, notably qualifiers for major championships, in November, February, June and September.
However, the organisation behind the top-tier EuroLeague, which was restructured last year to incorporate a round-robin regular season in which every team plays 30 games, is refusing to take breaks to avoid a clash of fixtures, claiming its own structure does not allow for this.
Yesterday, Euroleague Basketball presented its solution for the new calendar, which it claimed “guarantees that players will be present in all International competitions,” “defends national teams playing on their home soil” and “respects the traditional clubs season calendar”.
The proposal includes a 38-week club calendar running from October to June and a four-week national team calendar (with an additional two-week preparation period) in July.
However, FIBA claimed this international schedule would result in the federation having to move its flagship World Cup in 2019 from September to July, which FIBA labelled as “unacceptable”.
The federation also accused Euroleague Basketball of “artificially” and “intentionally” creating a calendar which clashes with World Cup qualifiers.
FIBA’s latest statement also alleged that its adversary is using the proposal as a “diversionary tactic” while the European Commission investigates complaints the two parties filed against each other last year.
Today, the national federations of Germany, Greece, Italy, Russia, Spain and Turkey signed a joint statement supporting FIBA's stance and confirming that they will invite EuroLeague players to participate in qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup, despite the possible clash of fixtures.
FIBA is introducing a new calendar, with the support of national federations, to raise the profile of the national teams, which, until now, have been playing most of their games in the northern hemisphere summer.
However, it was confirmed in July that the 2017-18 EuroLeague regular season will run continuously from 12 October to 6 April, and the organisers say that its players should be treated similarly to those in other continental leagues, notably the NBA, and not be obliged to turn out for their national teams.
FIBA has claimed that Euroleague Basketball is not respecting the international windows, when the new global calendar has the support of the “worldwide basketball family,” including national federations and the European leagues through the Union of European Leagues of Basketball.
However, Euroleague Basketball has pointed out that its elite competition has never stopped in November or February.
It also maintained that the introduction of these games runs contrary to the agreement its clubs have had in place with FIBA since 2004 when a dispute over the primacy of competitions was resolved, with the EuroLeague and its sister EuroCup being recognised as the top two tiers.