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Central Board gives green light to new format and calendar of competition
FIBA announced at its Central Board meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, that it will go ahead and implement a new format and calendar of competition beginning in 2017.
After being presented with the conclusions from the latest consultations with stakeholders – including a study of the economic parameters carried out by external experts – FIBA’s Central Board on Saturday agreed to move ahead and to introduce a new format and calendar of competition.
The key principles agreed for the new competition format and calendar for men from 2017 are the following:
• After the 2014 FIBA Basketball World Cup in Spain, the next edition will be moved to 2019 (instead of 2018) and will be played every four years from then on. A total of 32 teams (increased from 24) will participate in FIBA’s flagship event.
• The qualification period for the FIBA Basketball World Cup will be held over the course of two years and consist of six windows which will be in November (2017), February, June, September, November (2018) and February (2019). The exact period and length of these windows will be defined in the coming months in collaboration with all stakeholders. The national teams will be divided into two divisions – Division A and Division B – with groups of three or four teams in an open system with promotion and relegation. Games in the qualification period will be played in a home-and-away format.
• Asia and Oceania will play in a combined Asia-Pacific region to qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup, but universality will remain in place for the qualifying process to the Olympic Games.
• As of 2017, the continental championships will take place every four years (2017, 2021, 2025) with a similar system of qualification as for the FIBA Basketball World Cup and which will come into action after FIBA’s flagship event in 2019. The windows will follow the same principle as the qualifying process to the FIBA Basketball World Cup but will be adapted in the Olympic years (2020, 2024).
• The qualification for the 2020 Olympics will be through the 2019 FIBA Basketball World Cup and four Olympic Qualifying Tournaments to be held in four zones.
The format and calendar of competition was identified as being one of FIBA’s main priorities and has been intensively worked on over the last two years. The modification of the current system is essential to further stimulate the global growth of basketball, increase its visibility around the world and further develop FIBA’s National Federations. This new competition format will give more prominence to the FIBA Basketball World Cup by placing it in a year where it can enjoy more exclusivity.
The home-and-away format will allow fans from around 140 countries to see their national teams play regular games and offer a “Road to the FIBA Basketball World Cup” over a two-year qualification period, with a similar system for the continental championships. There will be a total of more than 1,200 games played over a four-year cycle.
The FIBA Central Board recognises the fundamental role played by clubs and leagues worldwide and the need for appropriate insurance for players competing for their national teams. The new competition format takes the health of top players into consideration by reducing their current summer workload and responds to the clubs’ concerns about player fatigue and injury. The FIBA Central Board looks forward to cooperating with all stakeholders to make this new calendar a success for the world of basketball.
FIBA President Yvan Mainini explained the rationale behind making the change at this moment in time.
“Basketball needs to expand its reach and generate a new, dynamic stimulus for its growth. This can only happen if each country grows the game and plays regularly in front of its own fans,” he said.
“I’m delighted that the Central Board has taken this decision because it is fundamental in our goal of harmonising the global calendar and developing basketball worldwide.”
FIBA Secretary General and International Olympic Committee (IOC) member Patrick Baumann added: “National teams are the locomotive of basketball in each country. We need to protect and enhance their role. At the same time, clubs invest daily into our sport and their investment also needs respect and protection.”
“Therefore, in each country, it is the joint responsibility of clubs, leagues and National Federations to cooperate for the success of the national championships and the national team in this new integrated system.”
FIBA also plans to review the women’s calendar and system of competition within the next year.
Reaction to change is positive
There has been positive reaction to the new format and calendar of competition announced by FIBA at its Central Board meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, over the weekend.
Many of the changes are related to the FIBA Basketball World Cup, which is to increase from 24 to 32 teams starting in 2019.
The qualification period for FIBA's flagship event will be held over the course of two years and consist of six windows - November (2017); February, June, September, November (2018); and February (2019).
Under the new format, fans from some 140 countries will be able to enjoy regular national team games throughout the year during the qualification period to the FIBA Basketball World Cup. These games will be part of an estimated 1,200 international top level contests to be played over a four-year cycle.
A leading international coach in the men’s game, Vincent Collet of France, weighed in with his opinion on the changes.
"It’s a complete overhaul in the sense that FIBA is finally taking into account the incredible rhythm that’s put on these players," he said.
"It will allow the participation of the very best players at international competitions. Overall it’s a good thing."
Collet, who was speaking to French sports daily L’Equipe, added: “You have to make sure that you don’t reach the point where you have too many competitions like in handball where you have some every year.”
One of the changes affects the continental championships, which will be held every four years instead of two, beginning in 2017.
"Having a EuroBasket every four years will also take the pressure off of some players and allow them to position themselves more closely to their teams," Collet said.Important decisions
Ingo Weiss, the President of the German Basketball Federation, also endorsed the changes.
"After very good and constructive discussions, we made some strategically important decisions for basketball," he said.
"With the changes, the FIBA Basketball World Cup will increase in importance as an event. That is an important step to position our sport – also compared to other sports."
Across the Atlantic Ocean, FIBA Americas Secretary General Alberto Garcia was optimistic that smaller basketball nations would benefit from hosting big games.
"It is a more complex process but it allows more participation and local games to federations that right now are not strong," he said in a phone interview with Primera Hora.
"It will allow us to increase the sport at the level of America in places like Barbados and the Lesser Antilles.
"The same will happen in Europe, Asia and Africa.
"This will get federations to make an effort to search in depth of talents, using prospect players in the first round of qualifying and keeping their stars for their final phases."Combined Asia-Pacific region
At the Central Board, FIBA also announced that Asia and Oceania will play in a combined Asia-Pacific region to qualify for the FIBA Basketball World Cup, but universality will remain in place for the qualifying process to the Olympic Games.
The decision was well received by the Philippines.
Sonny Barios, the Executive Director of the Philippines Basketball Association (SBP), welcomed the move, one which will come into effect for the 2019 staging of the leading international men's basketball tournament, when the field will consist of 32 teams for the first time.
“We were part of discussions in Geneva in November 2011 and March 2012,” Barrios told the BusinessMirror on Monday.
“We supported the idea with the understanding that it will effectively result to more slots for Asia and that means a better chance for the Philippines to qualify.”FIBA
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