FIBA’s New Competition System and Calendar - designed to grow the game worldwide, increase its visibility through regular national team games and provide opportunities for new talent - launches later this year when the FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifiers tip off in November.
The new system offers a clear structure and hierarchy of the competitions at a global level, is more player-friendly and easier for fans to understand. The regular games of national teams year-round will also bring increased media coverage and promotion, creating synergies with club competitions and enhancing the commercial potential of basketball.
The new system tackles issues identified during an extensive consultation period. These included:
• Insufficient visibility of national teams in their home countries; unlike in other team sports, there were no regular home games for all national teams;
• National team competitions were taking place only in August or September, which reduced their visibility;
• A simpler qualification system was needed across FIBA’s Regions;
• There was no lead-up to the national team competitions due to long periods of time between games;
• Due to too much “wear and tear” on international players competing every summer following the club season, the participation of the best players in national team tournaments was becoming uncertain;
• The previous calendar offered no development potential for most National Federations, as the same countries won all the major competitions;
• There is a need to develop further “home grown players” and this is made possible with teams being able to change their pools for every window of the Qualifiers.
• Other sports are improving and adjusting their own models.
Benefits of the New Competition System and Calendar
• New interest in basketball thanks to regular official national team games played in front of home fans;
• An improved lead-up to flagship national team tournaments, with a clear “road to” the main FIBA competitions;
• Improved basketball exposure, with more than 150 countries competing in more than 1,250 regular and competitive games;
• More opportunities in the sport for emerging countries and players to make their mark through regular official games;
• Increased media exposure and promotion for national team basketball - generating benefits across all FIBA Regions;
• Year-round visibility of the national team creating synergies with club competitions. More potential for commercial and media partners to be associated with the national teams and the main FIBA competitions;
• A player-friendly system, which sees a 20 to 25 percent decrease (depending on the region) in players’ workload with their national team while also including one free summer in every four-year cycle, in order to maximize the opportunity for international stars to play in FIBA competitions; and
• Assist in the continued growth and development of FIBA’s National Member Federations.
Regular national team games
The key to having a successful calendar system is to ensure there are regular international games throughout the year - and so make it an attractive product.
Currently, basketball is the only Olympic team sport where national teams play only in the summer. This has proven not to be a sustainable situation for basketball. In comparison, football has at least four fixed windows during the clubs’ season each year - double that of basketball as of 2017. In general, other team sports (football, volleyball, and handball) have more and/or longer windows during the club season and benefit from this continuous exposure.
Each window will consist of nine days, virtually two weekends, during a nine-month-long season between October and June.
FIBA is pleased to see that the overwhelming majority of the global basketball family is excited by the New Competition System and Calendar has developed in order to enhance the commercial appeal of the sport at the international level.
National leagues throughout the world have agreed to implement the New Competition System and Calendar.
In 2015 the European Leagues decided in the Union of European Basketball Leagues (ULEB)’s assembly to amend the ULEB statutes and accept the FIBA calendar.
In 2016, Euroleague Commercial Assets (ECA) modified the Euroleague and Eurocup bylaws eliminating barriers for the participation of players in the national team.
In November 2016, FIBA received a letter from ECA confirming its rules neither prevent nor limit in any way the release of players to national team competitions.
The New Competition System and Calendar is a global initiative, not just a European one.
It is worth remembering that a similar system existed in Europe until 2003, when ULEB was organising Euroleague and Eurocup.
However, since 2003 Euroleague has almost doubled the number of games played by clubs internationally to a total of 37 per season. For some clubs that is more games than in their own domestic league.
Several players’ association confirmed recently their strong will to participate in the Qualifiers:
The NBA’s exemption from the Qualifiers windows during its season
The NBA has welcomed the New Competition System and Calendar and supports it.
It has been built with a view to ensure more participation of NBA players in the main tournaments - FIBA Basketball World Cup, Continental Cups and Olympic Games - where there have been notable absences in recent years through the “one-tournament-every-summer” format.
NBA players will be available during the windows outside of the NBA season, i.e. in June/July and September.
As the number one basketball league in the world, the NBA cannot be treated as if it were any other league. According to Forbes Magazine, in 2015, the average NBA team was worth $1.25 billion. The top teams are worth upwards of $3 bn., with players commanding salaries of $20m and up. The NBA is a $7.5 billion business annually.
FIBA’s New Competition System and Calendar - a tool to nurture new talent
The New Competition System and Calendar will offer new opportunities for young players from more countries to play at the international level. This will enable players from less prominent basketball nations to develop their skills and talent. The more games played against good opposition, the more playing standards will improve.
In addition, the absence of NBA players during two of the windows will offer opportunities for other talented players to shine for their national teams and as a result, develop a whole new generation of basketball stars.