FIBA Europe wins arbitration case at CAS

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It has been announced in an official press release that FIBA Europe has received a favorable ruling in the case “Lithuanian Basketball Federation et al vs. FIBA Europe.” The Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne has rejected a motion put forth by around 20 federations to bring forward elections for a new Board last year.

The press release goes on to state:

According to the CAS ruling Europe’s governing basketball body acted within the legal framework of its own bylaws during the FIBA Europe General Assembly in May 2012, when it rejected a proposal for an extraordinary General Assembly to be called with the election of a new Board as the single item on the agenda.

The root of this case stems from two levels of conflict. The first level is between FIBA World and FIBA Europe. FIBA World wants a four-year competition cycle while FIBA Europe prefers a two-year cycle. This issue hit a critical stage in August of 2012 when Canadian Nar Zanolin, who was at the time the Secretary General of FIBA Europe, acted without the permission of FIBA Europe President Olafur Rafnsson and sent letters to many national Basketball federations in order to gain their support for this move and retain the current Eurobasket format, meaning a competition of 24 teams every two years. This act resulted in Zanolin’s firing and he was replaced by Kamil Novak from the Czech Republic in October 2012. It was after Zanolin’s dismissal that 28 national federations requested for an emergency meeting of the General Assembly for the purpose of electing a new board. FIBA Europe did not hold such meeting, even though the statutes dictate that if 15 or more federations request it, it has to be held within 60 days of the request. Therefore, the 28 national federations took FIBA Europe to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland, for not obeying its own statutes.

The second level of the issue is more of personal and political in nature. There was already a growing state of dissatisfaction in President Olafur Rafnsson who hails from Iceland, a country with a small basketball fan base and without a long-standing tradition of basketball. “Bigger” basketball countries feel that FIBA Europe should be led by someone who is from a country with deeper roots in the sport. FIBA Europe has addressed this issue when it announced in January 2013 that Dejan Bodiroga from Serbia will be the new President of FIBA Europe after the mandate of Rafnsson is up.

Dejan Bodiroga (1973) was one of the biggest names of European basketball around the turn of the century. He won the European- and World Championships with his national team and the Euroleague with Panathinakos from Greece and FC Barcelona from Spain

Dejan Bodiroga was the favorite candidate for the FIBA job among the big clubs in Europe and also the big Basketball countries.

Now that the arbitration ruling has been announced and with the plans laid for a new leadership to soon be put in place in FIBA Europe, it is now possible that the turmoil and struggle will now just be a thing of the past.

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