By Aris Barkas/ email@example.com
There’s no official reaction yet from FIBA for the new Euroleague project, however former FIBA Europe president Giorgos Vasilakopoulos had some interesting things to say, even before Euroleague’s announcement.
Vasilakopoulos, the head of the Greek federation and chairman of FIBA’s governance commission, was also present in the meeting between FIBA and Euroleague last week, and predicted that things will not go down smoothly. As he said to an interview to OTE TV which was recorded last week: “Even the way we were positioned around the table was awkard. From one side there was FIBA and from the other side there was Euroleague and the clubs. The table was the middle ground and it was obvious that this was a negotiation. I expect this to be the start of the end of a division in European basketball which started in 2000 with the creation of the Euroleague and it’s our duty to put an end to this”.
Vasilakopoulos is critical of both sides: “We have the NBA in FIBA with deputy commissioner Mark Tatum being a member of the executive comittee, there was also a representative of NBC in the meeting, so I asked what we want to do? Bring the NBA in Europe, or create a European NBA? I never got an answer. On the other hand Euroleague is representing 40 or 50 clubs. There are many more in Europe, which produce basketball talent. There was basketball in Europe before the year 2000 and according to my data at least the Greek teams were making more money than the money they made with Euroleague”.
The bottom line is simple and now the question is how FIBA will react. As Vasilakopoulos said: “We are speaking about lofty ideals in sports, like the Olympic ideal, but we tend to forget them in those kind of discussions. On the other side we have the North American leagues, like the NBA, trying to get a part of the financial pie from Europe, even from football. So we have to act and do justice to our sport, help it grow more in Europe”.