The row concerning European basketball has intensified after the sport’s worldwide governing body officially launched its Champions League tournament despite a rival Euroleague being unveiled last year.
The issue has caused controversy within the sport and has seen the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) and the Euroleague Commercial Assets (ECA) clash over ownership of the European club game.
The FIBA Champions League is designed to replace the Euroleague as the top level European competition.
However, Euroleague Basketball revealed they had signed a 10-year agreement with sports, events, media and fashion company IMG to alter their existing competition to create a “true European league” late in 2015.
It was thought this would reassert the league’s position regardless of the creation of the FIBA Champions League.
Their new format would see 16 teams, featuring 11 permanent clubs, participate in a round robin regular season of 30 rounds, with the top eight advancing to a best-of-five play-off stage.
The victors will then progress to the Euroleague Final Four, where the semi-final and final of the tournament will take place to crown the continental champions.
FIBA Europe has accused the ECA of “abusive behaviour towards clubs and leagues” and insisted they had not responded to a letter sent out to the ECA and to the 11 A-license clubs.
The continental federation also claimed the ECA had been “aggressive and illegal” in their dealings thus far and threatened any National Federation who get involved with the organisation with potential expulsion from any tournament organised by FIBA Europe, such as the EuroBasket.
“In response to ECA’s aggressive and illegal behaviour, it was decided that, with the exception of the 16 Euroleague teams, any National Federation that supports ECA’s illegal tying practices by allowing their leagues or clubs to conclude and/or implement agreements with ECA, or any other entity directly or indirectly linked to it, will automatically lose the right to participate in senior men national team competitions organised by FIBA Europe,” a FIBA Europe statement read.
“The withdrawal of the right to participate in European International Competitions may extend also to other competitions.”
The feud surrounding the competitions began back in 2000 when Europe’s top clubs broke away from FIBA to form a new tournament, held under the jurisdiction of Euroleague Basketball.
Since then, FIBA have been trying to regain control of European club basketball and the creation of the Champions League is a clear attempt at establishing themselves as the main competition.
The Basketball Champions League, due to begin this year and conclude in 2017, will feature a total of 56 teams, with a total of 32 making up the regular season.
Eight of them will earn their spots through a qualification round played with 24 teams, while the others will reach the main tournament through their respective national leagues.
Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Greece, Israel, Italy, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Spain and Turkey will have direct qualification, with the exact amount of places due to be decided by the Board of the Basketball Champions League.
FIBA hope it will work alongside their new calendar, due to come into effect in 2017 and which will see national teams will play regular home and away games over a four year cycle from 2017, which will be used as qualifiers for the 2019 World Cup and the 2021 Continental Cups.
The calendar has, however, received strong opposition from Euroleague Basketball, who are worried about the impact the new system will have on their competition.