Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius suspended from LKL

 Lietuvos Rytas VilniusLietuvos Rytas Vilnius, one of the leading clubs in Lithuania, has been banned by its own Lithuanian Basketball Federation after deciding to side with the Euroleague in its fight with FIBA.

The ULEB, which organizes the Euroleague and Eurocup, is embroiled in a political tug of war with FIBA after the world governing body launched its own Champions League. Both organizations have issued a one or the other ultimatum to clubs, most of the clubs have chosen to stay loyal to the ULEB. As a consequence FIBA has sanctioned Federations to punish those clubs severely.

Some federations have refused to do so and have been banned from the FIBA organized 2016 European Championships this summer. Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius was one of the clubs that decided to stay with the ULEB and said it will participate in the Eurocup. The Lithuanian is one of the few complying with FIBA and has decided to suspend the club, which means Lietuvos Rytas loses its place in the LKL.

It is arguable that the Lithuanian Basketball Federation had its hands tied, while banning one of its biggest clubs shows how serious FIBA’s punishments are. Lietuvos Rytas Vilnius is a multiple time winner of the LKL, but the Federation is prepared to dig its heels in. It is a dogfight that is occurring all over Europe, such as in Russia where Russian Basketball Federation president Andrei Kirilenko asked the VTB League to suspend Russian clubs from the competition.

As for Lietuvos Rytas, the club is committing to the Eurocup next season and will not participate in the LKL as things stand. The club has good reason to stay loyal to the ULEB as the Eurocup has been good to the team, with the Vilnius giant winning the competition in 2005 and in 2009 as part of a treble that also included the LKL title and Lithuanian Cup.

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