Mediaset to show Spain's FIBA World Cup qualifiers after all
By Simon Ward
Mediaset España, the Spanish commercial broadcaster, will televise the national basketball team’s World Cup qualifying games this weekend after all, having reversed a decision not to show them.
The away fixture against Montenegro on Friday and the home contest against Slovenia on Sunday will be offered live and for free on the Be Mad channel, the network said yesterday evening.
At the end of last week, Mediaset had announced that it would not be showing the Spain qualifiers nor the 2019 Basketball World Cup in China because Spain will be lacking many of its top players as a result of a calendar dispute between FIBA, the international basketball federation, and Euroleague Basketball, the organiser of the top European clubs competition.
However, following talks with FIBA, the broadcaster has now pledged to transmit at least the first two qualifiers.
In a statement, Mediaset said that in the discussions, the federation had made a commitment to “solve the problem of calling-up players for the next international games of the basketball teams.”
Rights to the qualifiers were acquired by Mediaset in May in a four-year deal that also included the World Cup and the EuroBasket, the European championships, in 2017 and 2021.
However, the broadcaster was disappointed at the absence of some leading Spanish players from this weekend’s qualifiers resulting from the fact that the games clash with EuroLeague fixtures.
FIBA welcomed Mediaset’s about-turn, saying: “FIBA’s primary concern has been to ensure that Spanish fans are able to share the excitement as the national team takes the first steps along the road leading to the FIBA World Cup China 2019 and the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.”
There was also relief from Jorge Garbajosa, the president of the FEB, who said he wanted to record “our gratitude to Mediaset and FIBA for having reached this agreement, which will make it possible for all fans to be thrilled by the national team, as they have always been through television.”
The calendar dispute is particularly prominent in Spain as it is one of Europe’s leading basketball countries and has five teams in the EuroLeague this season, and Mediaset earlier blamed FIBA, Euroleague Basketball and the Spanish secretary of state for sport, presently José Ramón Lete, for the current situation.
Players have been forced to decide between turning out for their national teams or their club sides after international games were scheduled in the same week as EuroLeague fixtures following the introduction by FIBA of new international windows in November and February, with many opting to stay with their clubs.
FIBA and Euroleague Basketball have been embroiled in a long-running row over the windows, with the latter last month rejecting a proposal to switch EuroLeague games scheduled for Thursdays and Fridays to the Tuesdays before, in the weeks in question.
FIBA saw this proposal as a compromise after Euroleague Basketball maintained that it would not introduce gaps in its schedule to respect the windows, with the international federation itself moving European qualifiers from Thursdays to Fridays.