By James Crook

Fund-British-Basketball-LogoJanuary 22 - A grass-roots campaign has been launched in an attempt to regain funding for British basketball, which was cut completely by UK Sport for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio.

The "Fund British Basketball" campaign features a website and a petition on the official Government website, which aims to achieve 100,000 signatures in order to be considered for debate in the House of Commons.

The campaign was formed by Sam Neter, founder of basketball website, and Russ Levenston, general manager of British Basketball League (BBL) Cup-winning franchise Leicester Riders.

"For all this talk of legacy over the last five years, it seems like basketball is one of the sports that has been forgotten about," said Neter

"To cut basketball's funding, a sport which has arguably shown greater progress than any other over the last four years, is a complete kick in the teeth."

Fund British Basketball Connor WashingtonThe "Fund British Basketball" campaign has been launched in an attempt to win back investment in the sport

UK Sport announced in November that basketball would receive no funding for this Olympic cycle, cutting every penny of the £8.6 million ($13.6 million/€10.6 million) invested in the sport for London 2012.

Neter criticised the criteria for funding in sports, as UK Sport's "no-compromise formula" promised only to fund sports that appeared to have genuine competitors for medals.

"Their criteria for funding may be medal hopes only, but that is flawed when it compares all sports on an equal footing," he said.

"If a sport only has say a few dozen countries in it, of course it's going to be easier to win a medal.

"If it has multiple events and multiple distances the same would apply."

According to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Basketball is the second most popular sport in England for 11 to 15 year olds, with ethnic minorities making up 42 per cent of participants, according to Sport England.

Drew SullivanTeam GB and Leicester Riders captain Drew Sullivan has backed the "Fund British Basketball" campaign

Several top British basketball stars have backed the campaign, including Leicester Riders and Great Britain captain Drew Sullivan.

"Playing domestically, I know how badly the sport needs a Team GB to exist," said Sullivan, who is one of only two players to remain a part of the British team since its inception in 2007.

"Kids come up to me on a daily basis to say how much the Olympics meant to them, and players I coach have all hoped to be a part of the GB set up in the future,

"I encourage everyone to make their opinion count by signing the petition and supporting the 'Fund British Basketball' campaign."

Secretary General of the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) Patrick Baumann also condemned the funding cut, labelling it "incomprehensible" in a letter to Sebastian Coe, the chairman of London 2012 and the British Olympic Association.

The British men's team have gone from unranked to 23rd in the world in their five-year existence, and the women's team are currently ranked 24th.

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