Opinions you need to know: Patrick Baumann – “Agreement must be found over Euroleague”

By iSportconnect | May 16, 2016

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It’s been a busy few weeks for FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann. He’s caught in the middle of a conflict between basketball’s governing body and the independent Euroleague, as well as Baumann himself being elected as the new president of SportAccord.

At the heart of the dispute is FIBA’s decision to start a ‘Basketball Champions League’ aimed to rival the Euroleague, currently the main European basketball tournament.

Euroleague is not affiliated to FIBA, and 11 top  teams have made deals to play in the competition. It led FIBA to inform national basketball federations that if a member club plays in the Euroleague the national team will lose its right to play at FIBA events.

In a worst case scenario teams like Spain, Italy and Serbia will banned from playing any international matches, including at the Olympics.

Baumann is keen for basketball to be the winner regardless of the outcome of the dispute.

“We are in a transition phase, trying to reorganise ourselves, we have challenges regarding reorganisation at the moment; the phase we are going through with European competition is not a simple one.

“I’m optimistic because we have to understand where the sports model in Europe is going and whatever way it goes, we have to find the path that helps basketball to continue to grow.”

“We do struggle because there are hard philosophical positions opposing each other and there needs to be some sort of solution where maybe there will be a top league similar to a European NBA and below a domestic championships – it’s important for us that grassroots doesn’t dry out.

“Hopefully at the top there is a locomotive that is not closed and that is fine, we’ll see if that is sustainable and if that is what the fans want.”

Euroleague winners 2015

While the stand-off in European basketball is generating some unwelcome headlines, Baumann is focussing on Rio ahead of the Olympic Games.

With some sports experiencing issues regarding readiness – such as cycling and the velodrome – Baumann was keen to stress basketball has no issues in terms of infrastructure with under 100 days to go until the opening ceremony.

“I hope everything in Rio will work very well; it usually does, the IOC is improving its work with the Olympic Channel and I think that is going to be exciting.”

“We’re fortunate in basketball, it’s an indoor arena, we’ve already had a test event and it worked very fine – we’ve had events in Brazil before and we always go back with fond memories from our trips to Brazil.”

Olympic basketball is vital to FIBA, they are hoping that come Tokyo 2020 the 3×3 format of the game is added to the Olympics for the first time to join the traditional format.  3×3 sees two teams of three playing on half a court, shooting into one basket.

FIBA BAUMANN

Baumann believes that if 3×3 does make it to Tokyo, it will benefit the sport in a number of countries.

“We have to consolidate what we are doing across the globe, we’re looking to develop Asia – we have a World Cup coming there in 2019. We have interesting prospects in Africa for teams that want to move up and a new competition system coming up – these are exciting times, exciting in both ways!”

“If somehow within a year from now we have the good news that 3×3 will be at the Tokyo Games, we have a whole other wave of basketball passion hoping to compete at the games.”

“I’m very hopeful if the IOC decides to have an urban cluster at the 2020 games then I think 3×3 has a great chance to be in the middle of it.”

FIBA is keen to work with communities; recently they announced their Foundation would be working with Genius Sports once again – signing a partnership until 2019.

As part of the partnership Genius Sports are also working closely with over one hundred professional basketball  leagues right around the world, to help them commercialise their live data and increase fan engagement.

FIBAGenius

Baumann continues: “It’s a fantastic moment because it is a long-term partnership that is already there for 12 years, we have been together with junior sports and performing sporting paths to develop the capacities of our national federations across the globe in collecting data of the games and making sure they understand who is playing it and also for their own data and promoting it and also to develop some commercial propositions around that.

“It’s very important as a development tool, it’s a good thing to have developed and now we need to expand them across the globe, not just in basketball but in other sports and we’re happy to help them do that.”

With talks about developing the sport in Asia, the possibility of two Olympic formats, and seemingly an impasse on how to deal with European version of the game, it seems FIBA have a crucial year or two ahead of them.

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