By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Basketball Champions League CEO Patrick Comninos traveled to Avellino this week and met with the local press. He presented the Champions League project and, for the first time in his words, one could detect a possible end of the “war” between the two sides.
However the idea presented is not compatible with the Euroleague – IMG joint venture. As Komninos said: “As for the relationship with the Euroleague, we realize the complexity of the situation but as far as we are concerned, our goal is to develop a championship of very high level. It’s important to be able to satisfy the demand of many clubs: to allow the qualification of a prestigious league as the Euroleague Basketball through the Champions League”.
Of course, only via the Eurocup one may achieve to enter to Euroleague at this point, but what Comninos said is probably what FIBA wants to achieve. As he explained: “At the moment, our main goal is to create the best possible environment because this competition is successful; as you will see, we are making major investments to achieve the level we desire in every way. For example we produce centrally everything about branding, the “look” of the competition: the stickers on the floor, the backdrop. it is not an expense that must be supported by the teams: we produce everything ourselves and ship it here because we believe it is essential to have a consistent look in all 40 European locations we visit. If we want to create a successful brand, it is important to maintain a high level, give uniformity and consistency to the location to our product. So, slowly but constantly, we expect to be able to reach that level of excellence that both we, and our partners, namely the clubs, wish”.
Still according to Komninos there’s a great difference between the two sides: “The main difference between us and the Euroleague regards the access to the competition: the teams participating in our league can change each year, because our intention is to invite the best teams in each league. For us it is a challenge, because maybe we might find different teams every year without having to forge partnership agreements, schedule calendars and branding, but we are convinced that this is precisely the sense of the sport: to bring together every year teams that have achieved the best results in any national championship “.
“Euroleague is a closed system”
Komninos, a former UEFA executive, used football as an example: “I do not believe that the UEFA Champions League is a closed group. Of course, sometimes it happens that they are always the same teams to participate, but access is free: it is not a closed group. The Euroleague system is a closed system, but it is by definition: 11 teams of 16 are chosen in advance. Can I make you a practical example, as we were talking about football: Last year, Leicester won the Premier League and this gave the team a chance to go play in the UEFA Champions League with the best club in the world, such as Barcelona, Real Madrid, Juventus. This is a fundamental principle of the sport: if you’re the best in your national league you should have the chance to play with the best of the other championships. This is the meaning of the Basketball Champions League and is the reason why our members are no teams, but sports leagues that bring us their best team. The European sports environment is structured like a pyramid: there is the local level, then the national one, then internationally. There’s this kind of “lift” that we must take in order to reach the highest level and that for us is the basis of the sport: you have to be good at the national level in order to play at the international level “.