FIBA Europe and ULEB

23 May 2003
VERY IMPORTANT - Please read carefully

To the Presidents of the participating Clubs of the EuroLeague (season 2002-2003)
To the Presidents of the participating Clubs of the ULEB Cup (season 2002-2003)

Re: FIBA Europe and ULEB

Dear Mr. President,
Dear Basketball friend,

As you know, FIBA Europe held its General Assembly in Sevilla, Spain, over the past weekend and a number of important decisions were taken, in particular related to the on-going conflicting situation with ULEB.

To avoid misunderstandings and distorted or false information as they already appeared in some media, it appears useful to inform you personally and directly, as participants of the Euroleague or ULEB Cup of the season 2002-2003, in the most comprehensive way of the position of FIBA Europe in this important matter.

Please note that for sake of simplicity when we mention ULEB, we refer indifferently to the Euroleague Entity managing the Euroleague or the ULEB Cup as well as to ULEB itself.

1. The Euroleague

After last year's failure and upon FIBA Europe's initiative, new negotiations started again in December 2002.

Many meetings, phone conversations and draft agreements were exchanged with ULEB since then.

On April 30th 2003 a FIBA Europe delegation composed of the two undersigned and of FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann met in Barcelona and resolved all issues related to the Euroleague and, in princple, the issues regarding the management and the administraiton of all other European club competitions (Annex 1, Article 1.f and Article 10).

Immediately following this meeting, ULEB submitted to FIBA Europe a draft agreement dated 30th April 2003.

FIBA Europe duly signed this agreement and returned it to ULEB on 6th May 2003 for counter signature and, to date, this draft agreement has not been signed and returned by ULEB to FIBA Europe.

We attach hereafter this agreement for your information. (ANNEX 1).

You will realize that it covers all necessary points and sets the stage for a constructive collaboration between FIBA Europe and ULEB, recognizing each other's authority, expertise and responsibilities. It also creates a working body, the FIBA Europe/ULEB Joint Commission, which is responsible, inter alia, to solve any problem that might arise.

FIBA Europe fully stands by this agreement.

2. The second level international club competition

ULEB has attached further conditions to the signing of an agreement, insisting in particular on playing the key role in the decision making process for the second European club competition and on keeping the sole control of the relations with those clubs.

FIBA Europe repeatedly declared that this form of joint management of this competition was unacceptable because of FIBA Europe's operational princples as it is the institutional body of the sport of basketball. However, FIBA Europe was and is willing to adopt management processes that stress the key role of the clubs.

We would like to state here very clearly that FIBA Europe recognizes and is ready to implement the right of (professional) clubs to take part in the decisions that affect them in all competitions in which they participate.

Therefore any statement implying that "the clubs be limited to following the instructions of the international federation" are wrong and intentionally misleading.

In fact, in a further attempt to come to an agreement before its General Assembly, FIBA Europe invited ULEB to a new meeting in Madrid last Thursday. Due to a fortunate coincidence of calendars (IOC meetings), FIBA Secretary General Emeritus Borislav Stankovic and FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann were able to participate in this meeting as well.

During that discussion, FIBA Europe offered once again that a General Assembly of Clubs and any other necessary club commission structure for this second level competition be organized and regularly convened by FIBA Europe. Any other issue which could affect the FIBA Europe / ULEB relationship or any competition structure would be decided by the Joint Commission.

This was continuously rejected by ULEB stating that ULEB only deal with clubs directly, thus shortcutting any involvement of FIBA Europe or of its member national federations.

To this end, we attach also hereafter for you information the last proposal as it arrived from ULEB and that reached FIBA Europe on the eve of its General Assembly in Sevilla (ANNEX 2).

Note also that the text the Euroleague published May 20th, 2003 on its website (ANNEX 5) neglected to include the last item on the the last page:

Firstly, this point was never included in any previous document. Secondly, this addition further modifies and therefore affects the original agreement of April 30th 2003 - prepared by ULEB - and its article 10 by implying clearly that if the FIBA Europe/ULEB Joint Commission failed to agree on matters related to the second level competition, the old regulations of the ULEB Cup would apply.

In other words, the only role FIBA Europe would play in the second level competition, would be that of the executor of ULEB's decisions, not the executor of the decisions of the participating clubs.

3. Players insurance

This additional point raised by ULEB could not be solved now, but the accusation of discriminatory acts is purely demagogic and false.

First of all, FIBA Europe made it clear that it understands the issue and that it is very willing to study the necessary solution. However, such solution cannot be found in the immediate future and therefore it cannot be part of this agreement.

In fact, contrary to the NBA situation, ULEB does not have a common insurance policy for all players of the Euroleague. Furthermore, the NBA is operating in one cultural, financial and legal system, while FIBA Europe operates in 50 different systems. This implies a variety of issues that need first to be solved. However, very interestingly, most developed National Federations have already such insurance with the clubs as beneficiaries.

Despite those practical difficulties and in an effort to temporarily help the situation, FIBA Europe proposed at the meeting in Madrid to pay a lump sum to ULEB for a contribution to the clubs's insurance policies, but this was also refused by ULEB.

This was therefore not an issue for FIBA Europe and the postponement of the problem offered by ULEB during the past weekend, while the most intelligent thing to do, was no real concession.

4. FIBA-Europe's next steps

As a result of ULEB's inflexible position and of ULEB's failure to return the agreed agreement of April 30th 2003 by the beginning of the General Assembly, FIBA Europe was obliged to convene immediately an extraordinary meeting of the Competitions Commission for the past Sunday in Sevilla.

The Commission confirmed, to the benefit of all clubs at all levels - both nationally and internationally -, that the harmonized calendar with an uninterrupted season for clubs shall be implemented as of this coming season as approved by the National Federations during the General Assembly.

Furthermore, it decided that FIBA Europe should maintain its role to organise official European club competitions at all levels.

To this end, it was decided that a Pan-European competition, on top of the past season's regional competition, will be organised for the 2003-2004 season. The number of clubs that will take part in this competition will be announced in due course, and the participating clubs given decision-making power in the structure and organisation of the competition. Clubs shall also keep their rights and shall decide later on how, if at all, they wish to develop this competition commercially.

5. Conclusions

FIBA Europe regrets this situation and would like to underline that, despite this situation,

  • FIBA Europe fully maintains its strong wish for a united European basketball
  • FIBA Europe is ready to work with all clubs at every level of the European Club Competitions.

We understand that the present situation will further maintain, if not even increase, confusion on an already confused and broken marketplace.

However, to date there seems to be no choice, even if the unity of European Basketball is only TWO signatures away: those are the signatures of the TWO ULEB representatives!

It is now clearly ULEB's choice to stop this situation of conflict and play an important role by managing and administrating the Euroleague. At the same time FIBA Europe will manage and administrate the other European club competitions using the criteria elaborated in point 2, paragraph 3.

ULEB's representatives have always indicated to us that the clubs do not share with us the will for a final unity. If this is so, it is very unfortunate. However, we strongly believe that this is not the case.
As President of a Euroleague club or a ULEB Club you have the power to make this happen.

If the basketball fans are the top priority of ULEB, then an agreement can only be top priority too.

With those remarks in mind, FIBA Europe will continue its way in line with the mandate given by the General Assembly.

We would be happy to organize a meeting in order to exchange opinions with all of you anytime it is convenient. We also invite you to respond to this letter and, if possible, confirm your willingness to participate at such a meeting.

We remain at your disposal for any additional clarification you would like to have on FIBA Europe's position.

Yours sincerely,

G. Vassilakopoulos
FIBA Europe 
N. Zanolin
Executive Director
FIBA Europe

Cc: National Federations of FIBA Europe
Board of FIBA Europe members
FIBA Europe Competition Commission
FIBA Secretary General


ANNEX 1: Agreement of April 30th 2003 duly signed by FIBA Europe President, Mr. George Vassilakopoulos and the Executive Director, Mr. Nar Zanolin with accompanying letter.

ANNEX 2: Fax of May 16th 2003, FIBA Europe/ULEB Joint Commission minutes from Euroleague CEO, Mr. Jordi Bertomeu to Executive Director, Nar Zanolin.

ANNEX 3: Letter of May 9th, 2003 from FIBA Secretary General, Mr Patrick Baumann to Euroleague CEO, Mr. Jordi Bertomeu.

ANNEX 4: FIBA Europe Press Realese dated May 18th, 2003.

ANNEX 5: Euroleague Press Realese dated May 20th, 2003.



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