Euroleague Basketball has filed a complaint before the European Commission against FIBA and FIBA Europe as a consequence of the repeated pressures that European basketball clubs are suffering at the hands of the international federation and its affiliated national federations with the objective of forcing them to renounce their participation in European competitions that since 2000 the selfsame clubs have been managing through Euroleague Basketball.
The complaint targets the unacceptable and illegal threats and pressures that FIBA and its member federations are making against clubs, players and referees to force them to abandon the Euroleague and the Eurocup and only participate in FIBA competitions. The complaint's objective is to guarantee that clubs, players and referees can freely make the choice to participate in the competitions that they consider appropriate without being subject to threats or pressures. FIBA is violating European Union law because, in a blatant conflict of interest, FIBA has rules on its books that provide for sanctions against those who are involved in competitions not approved by FIBA. There are several precedents at the European level (for example, the FIA, MOTOE and ISU cases) that demonstrate that sports federations cannot use their regulatory and sanctioning powers to gain an advantage in the market.
Attached to the complaint are repeated public comments made and published in various communications media over recent months in which different representatives of the international federation and its national federations threatened or insinuated possible sanctions or penalizations to different professional collectives according to their decision to participate in one competition or another.
Euroleague Basketball and its clubs have seen themselves forced to present this complaint in defense of the clubs, players, referees and other professionals who must have the freedom to decide in accordance with prevailing European law.
Euroleague Basketball has approached FIBA in recent months through official letters dated November 25 and December 29, 2015 to request a modification of its rules in those respects that could be contrary to the European norms concerning competition, specifically those that refer to the possibility of sanctioning clubs that don't participate in competitions recognized by FIBA or by the national federations. Those entreaties were rejected by FIBA despite Euroleague Basketball's advisement that legal steps would be taken in the interests of the clubs.
As the President and CEO of Euroleague Basketball announced some weeks ago in Il Corriere della Sera, the organization of the clubs will look to the administrative and judicial authorities in each country where such threats present a risk to the liberty of the clubs.
Since the year 2000, club competitions organized by FIBA and by Euroleague Basketball have co-existed, which is positive for the development of basketball. It would be more desirable, however, to have those competitions organized under a regimen of cooperation and not exclusion, the latter of which seems to be FIBA's objective since 2012, when it unilaterally broke the agreement it had with Euroleague Basketball since 2004.
The necessity of defending the rights of the clubs is in no way incompatible with Euroleague Basketball's reiterated intention to reach agreements with FIBA and its national federations, always in the context of respect for the law. In this sense, Euroleague Basketball hopes that at some point FIBA will respond to its invitation, sent to the international federation on November 12, 2015 and again on February 3, 2016, to seek together the bases for consensus and cooperation.
In any case, Euroleague Basketball will continue to develop the project announced in November of 2015 that includes the remodeling of the Turkish Airlines Euroleague and the Eurocup, with the aim of offering to our fans the opportunity to enjoy an even better competition and to our clubs the possibility of generating higher revenues. It goes without saying, too, that Euroleague Basketball not only doesn't object, but welcomes the FIBA's announcement of its intention to increase its dedication to club competitions.