By Eurohoops team/ firstname.lastname@example.org
Speaking to media at SportAccord on the Gold Coast, Australia, FIBA secretary general Andreas Zagklis addressed the issue of the conflict between FIBA and the EuroLeague and he clarified that the general approach on the matter should change.
“We have to transition from a war terminology into a collaborative terminology and I believe there is no other way forward for our sport and our clubs,” said Zagklis according to Sportcal.
“Bringing balance that we have achieved in four other continents – in the balance between clubs, federations and leagues on the European continent – is one of our [most important] challenges although it has been on the radar for some time. We had a breakaway 20 years ago and that breakaway was from national leagues who started operating EuroLeague and EuroCup,” he added.
“Fast forward a few years and these national leagues have now lost control of these competitions to a small group of clubs. Right now, we have four European club competitions operating and obviously, we are not reaching, neither on the commercial or on the sporting side, the potential that European basketball has. ECA can’t do this alone, the national leagues cannot do this alone and the federations cannot do this alone. We put the Basketball Champions League together because the national leagues came to us and said ‘please help us in restoring our position in European basketball,” he said.
On a time, where many domestic leagues in Europe have their own share of issues, Zagklis also expects them to react by growing: “What is most important here is that this is a moment of truth for national leagues in Europe. Either they will become stronger and maintain and even grow their position as we believe they should as they represent the vast majority of clubs, or they will become what the ECA want them to be, which is the third division of Europe. We are working with them and we are investing in that direction and we hope in the near future ECA can join us in finding a strong position for national leagues in the Euro environment and we can join efforts in properly commercializing this environment.”
Still, Zagklis is open to talks with ECA: “If we can have a rational discussion with the growth of the sport as a whole in mind, yes I can see that”.
However, the calendar remains a thorn in a possible collaboration: “We are ready to play the role of the governor that listens to its stakeholders and then takes a decision for the good of everyone. We will continue playing home and away games for the national teams and qualifiers for our major events. We believe that playing frequently gives exposure to the national teams, which are the locomotive of our sport in the local markets and this can have a positive synergetic effect on the leagues. We need to find a solution so Euroleague doesn’t schedule its games on the same days as international fixtures. Even if you have the opportunity to sanction, you have to use it in a very careful manner. The fact that you may be holding the so-called red button in your hands doesn’t mean you have the liberty to press it whenever you like.”