Euroleague ordered to stump up €900,000 in unpaid fees to FIBA Europe
By Simon Ward
Euroleague Basketball, the organiser of the top European clubs competition, has been ordered by a Luxembourg court to pay compensation of €900,000 ($1 million) to FIBA Europe, the governing body for the sport across the continent, for breaching a financial contract between the two parties nearly five years ago.
The Luxembourg Commercial Court ruled late last week that Euroleague Basketball had “unilaterally terminated” an agreement with FIBA Europe under which it was committed to pay the federation €400,000 per annum, according to Spanish newspaper El Pais.
The arrangement dated back to 2004 and a settlement of a dispute between the Union of European Leagues of Basketball and FIBA Europe in which the latter agreed to recognise the EuroLeague and EuroCup as the top two competitions on the continent.
In 2010, the obligation to pay this fee passed to Euroleague Properties, a subsidiary of Luxembourg-based Euroleague Commercial Assets, but it refused to do so from December 2012, citing international federation FIBA’s plans for the introduction of a new global calendar, which it considered breached the terms of the original contract.
The court rejected this argument and the €900,000 demanded of Euroleague Basketball covers unpaid fees from 2012 until the end of January 2015 when the contract is deemed to have run its course. No fees have been charged after that date.
Both Euroleague Basketball and FIBA Europe, which started the legal proceedings in Luxembourg in May 2015, are entitled to appeal against the outcome.
There has yet to be an official response from either side although it is understood that Euroleague Basketball is awaiting a copy of the full resolution before deciding whether to appeal.
The 2004 settlement brought to an end a clash over the primacy of European club competitions that dated back to a breakaway from the FIBA Europe structure in 2000.
However, in recent seasons, the two sides have again been in dispute over issues such as the global calendar, which is launching this year and entails international matches during the club season, and the launch by FIBA and 10 national leagues of a Basketball Champions League, which is going up against the EuroCup as a second-tier competition, below a revamped EuroLeague.
Last year, Euroleague Basketball took legal action accusing FIBA Europe of imposing or threatening to impose bans on national teams from appearing in competitions such as EuroBasket 2017 if their federations entered what FIBA Europe regarded as dubious accords with Euroleague Basketball linking future places in the EuroLeague with places in the EuroCup.
Euroleague Basketball dropped its case following a Munich court ruling in June 2016, which cited a technicality over the complaint filed against FIBA Europe.
However, Euroleague Basketball pledged vigilance over future actions of the FIBA bodies, and further legal action if necessary.
The ruling did not impact on separate complaints Euroleague Basketball and FIBA have filed against each other at the European Commission, which are still under review.