FIBA launches Champions League

European club basketball next season will again be divided into two elite competitions, because FIBA launches its Champions League from the 2016/17 season, which will be the counterpart of the current Euroleague. This was decided at a meeting held in Rome, which was attended by the leaders of FIBA and representatives of seven basketball associations – France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Turkey, Greece and Russia.

The governing body of world basketball has previously announced intention to re-launch its competition in which would took part the strongest European clubs, but the Euroleague recently responded with a new system of competition, which were accepted by the most powerful clubs that FIBA wants to return under its wing. Something similar has already happened in European club basketball fifteen years ago, when they were played two parallel competitions – ULEB Euroleague and FIBA Suproleague, so today we have two official European champion from season 2000/01, Maccabi Tel Aviv and Kinder Bologna. This division lasted only a year, after which the leading European clubs accepted the unique ULEB Euroleague, which is owned by clubs.

Today the situation is more complex, primarily because of the new format of the elite competition which starts next season and will become a semi-closed competition with 16 clubs, which means that there will be dissatisfied clubs, who want to be weighed with the best teams, but also a piece of the financial pie, which will be significantly higher next season. Thus the supporters of Unicaja in the match against Maccabi protested against the new system of competition, pointing out placards displayed one-dollar bills, but the character of George Washington replaced the image of the president of ULEB, Jordi Bertomeu. It is what will try to exploit FIBA, which could initiate a respectable competition, in which certainly would not be 11 selected teams that have “A” license of ULEB Euroleague. International Basketball Federation has jurisdiction over the national associations and national team competitions, which means that they could potentially penalize players and federations who do not accept their competition. FIBA President Patrick Baumann denied that FIBA in any way sanction the clubs and players who have signed a contract with the Euroleague, but he pointed out that basketball in Europe could not be a slave of a small number of clubs, regardless of the quality or how big they are.

In a statement issued by FIBA states that unanimously supported the project of the Champions League, which will undergo some changes, but that the plan remains that it will be launched next season. The presidents of federations that was also attended and FIBA will contact the clubs and leagues that are interested in participating in the competition under the new system, with the aim that format and all requirements be finalized in early 2016.

FIBA currently has jurisdiction over only one international club competition in Europe, and that is the FIBA EuroChallenge Cup, which does not brings together serious European clubs and is poorly escorted by the media. However, if they manage to win the confidence of some better European teams, like the already mentioned Unicaja, it is probable that competition will have a certain quality. However, the main problem of European club basketball remains dispersal of quality, and two parallel elite competitions would only further affect to an additional decline in quality.

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