Money grab on the part of FIBA?

From the International Basketball Opinion Blog.

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Recently, the International Basketball Federation (FIBA) sanctioned members Canada, China, Chinese Taipei (aka Taiwan), and South Korea for not participating in the second window (November 2020) of their respective regional championship qualifying tournaments, catching them all off guard.

FIBA hit all four with fines of $160,000. Half of those fines will be deferred if they participate in the next and last window (February 2021), where they will be tasked with making up the missed games from November.

Canada Basketball is appealing the ruling.

FIBA competitions suspended

Money grab on the part of FIBA?

Is the ruling unfair during a global pandemic that has taken the lives of millions of people around the world?

ABSOLUTELY!

In a statement issued by Canada Basketball (full statement here) it said that not only would its participation have gone against the mandates of the federal government “but also the directive of our chief medical officer and other medical professionals throughout Canada’s sport system, including those with Canada Basketball, Sport Canada, Own The Podium, the Return to Sports Task Force, and the Canadian Olympic Committee.

“In the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic that has claimed the lives of over 2 million people around the world, and infected 96 million more, never did we think we’d be forced to decide between the well-being of players and staff and sanctioning for an inability to safely participate in an international competition,” the statement continued.

DIFFERENT SANCTIONS – SAME OFFENSE

Interestingly, besides the economic penalty, FIBA is also deducting points from the four teams in their respective standings, yet not equally. According to FIBA.basketball (see links above), the three Asian nations are receiving:

  • A 2 (two) points deduction in the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers, half of the sanction, 1 (one) point deduction, being deferred to each national federation fully complying with its participation obligation in the next FIBA official competition.

While Team Canada is only receiving:

  • A 1 (one) point deduction in the FIBA AmeriCup 2022 Qualifiers, deduction which is being deferred to Canada Basketball fully complying with its participation obligation in the next FIBA official competition. 

Why the difference? NO IDEA… you’d have to ask FIBA, but it makes no sense.

Canada can get their points back for participating in the upcoming window. However, China, Chinese Taipei, and South Korea will still be docked one point even if they participate.

Huh?

BLINDSIDED

More importantly, however, $160,000 fines during a pandemic for putting their players’ and staffs’ health and safety first… and without warning?!

For months Canada Basketball was working with FIBA on the issue, and FIBA was informed in advance that Canada was not going to participate.

The statement goes on to say: “Over the course of several months leading into the second window of the FIBA AmeriCup 2022 Qualifiers, Canada Basketball was involved in open and transparent conversations with FIBA over our concerns with the health and safety protocols that had been established for the tournament in Dominican Republic.”

From CBC Sports – Out of the blue’: Canada Basketball blindsided by FIBA sanctions:

“I didn’t expect this, actually,” Canada Basketball president and CEO Glen Grunwald said. “So then for this to come out of the blue when I had been advised earlier that if we were not participating because of medical reasons, it would not be any penalties. So, again, very disappointed and a bit disillusioned with the approach.

“These sanctions were made public prior to notifying our organization of this decision. Consequently, we have not had an opportunity to understand or discuss with FIBA the rationalization for these sanctions.”

So, FIBA never informed the federations of potential fines for not participating? According to Canada Basketball, no. If true, that is quite the opposite of transparency and negotiating in good faith.

FIBA’S RETORT

CBC Sports contacted FIBA, asking for their side of the story and asked if they had informed Canada Basketball of the decision before they went public with the penalties.  

FIBA:“As proceedings are in progress, FIBA, unfortunately, cannot make any comment on the matter.”

WEAK! But not entirely unexpected, being that the case is still open with Canada appealing.

CANADA’S APPEAL

“We’re going to try and be positive,” Grunwald told CBC Sports. “We’re going to appeal this because we do think it’s unfair and wrong. But we’ll play by the rules as they’re dictated. And I hope FIBA can be bigger than what they’ve been here instead of, you know, trying to be strong arming teams to violate public health protocols.”

Canada has 14 days to file their official appeal.

NO CHUMP CHANGE HERE

China, Chinese Taipei, and South Korea’s associations are all government-funded, so they might fork over the money to FIBA and not risk ruffling FIBA’s feathers with an appeal.

Unfortunately, that is not the case with the non-profit and self-sustaining Canada Basketball.

Canada Basketball: “As a not-for-profit sports organization, a punitive fine of CHF 80,000-160,000 (or approximately $113,998-$227,997 CAD), will have a significant, negative impact on our operational capacity, diverting funds which exist to continue our long-held mandate of growing our game at a grassroots level in Canada, while also funding high performance programs to compete in upcoming international competitions.”

$160,000 and even $80,000 is A LOT of money for a self-funded sporting organization, any way you cut and unfortunately, their programming will suffer.

Does FIBA really need the money?

CONCLUSION

FIBA is out-of-bounds here, overstepping their authority and are not using common sense.

They tried to coerce all countries to participate in the November window. When four associations pushed back due to health and safety concerns and the deteriorating COVID situations in their respective countries, FIBA decided to try to make an example out of them.

Stand your ground Canada, take the charge right in your chest!

Let’s hope the referees go to the video replay and reverse the call on this one.

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