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The Euroleague, a precedent of the Superliga 21 years ago

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The creation of the Euroleague, that is, the birth of a basketball competition controlled by clubs outside the International Federation (FIBA) began to take shape at the end of the last century and saw the light in the year 2000. Unlike football and the Super League, the new competition had the support of the ULEB, the Union of European Leagues, which brought together some of the best national championships. Clubs and ULEB accused FIBA ​​of authoritarianism and mismanagement of organization and economy, and also of arbitration excesses.

The project started with the support of Telefónica, owner of 70% of the company that would administer the competition. In exchange for the transfer of audiovisual rights, sponsorship and others, the clubs would receive about 35 million dollars annually for five years, a figure higher than that signed by FIBA ​​with the Swiss company ISL (20 million) behind the backs of the teams, which previously negotiated their television rights individually.

FIBA reacted to the rupture by expelling the clubs from its bosom and in March 2000, its general secretary, Borislav Stankovic, claimed: “If the clubs move outside of FIBA ​​and the national federations, they will be left out (your players) of international competitions, including Olympic, World and European Games “. The threats were not carried out and the Euroleague moved on. The opening match was held at the Raimundo Saporta Pavilion, in the old white sports city, on October 16, 2000 with a 75-73 victory for Real Madrid by Djordjevic, Herreros and Los Angulo in front of Olympiakos (still with k) of Radja, David Rivers, De Miguel and Dusan Vukcevic, Tristan’s father, one of the pearls now of the merengue quarry.

“If the clubs move outside of FIBA, they will be left out of the Games, World Cups and Europeans”


Borislav Stankovic

The Euroleague started with 24 clubs, including Barça, Baskonia, Estudiantes, Virtus and Fortitudo Bolonia, AEK, PAOK, Zalgiris, Benetton … They weren’t all there. FIBA maintained its competition, although it had to change its name, since the Euroleague registered Euroleague and the Federation had to give up calling it that, as it had been doing since 1996. The FIBA ​​Suproliga was born as heir to the European Cup, organized by the international body between 1958 and 2000. In it, Maccabi, Panathianikos, Efes and CSKA played during a campaign, who contested the Final Four with the victory of those from Tel Aviv on May 13, 2001. Three days before, the Euroleague proclaimed the winner of Virtus de Messina and Ginobili after beating Baskonia 3-2 in the final playoff. Two formats, two champions, a split that would last only one course. The Euroleague was winning the pulse and in its second edition (2001-02) it featured all the greats with the final triumph of Obradovic’s Panathinaikos.

Spin-off: in the 2000-01 season there were two European champions, Virtus in the Euroleague and Maccabi in the Suproliga

FIBA had kept the Saporta Cup, former Recopa, but a year later, in the 2002-03 campaign, the Eurocup was born, the second tournament of the Euroleague. The clubs continued to take steps towards a competition “more stable”They claimed, where sporting criteria acquired over three years prevailed. Then the licenses and the fixed places would arrive. For more than a decade, coexistence with FIBA ​​was good. The International recognized the Euroleague and it supported its management in the national team championships.

Everything broke in 2015: FIBA ​​created the Champions League to regain control of the clubs and they rejected the proposal and signed with IMG for ten seasons and 630 million euros, 60% guaranteed for them and the other 40% for the organization of the Euroleague. There were new threats and, With the conflict of the National Teams Windows, the 14 countries of origin of the Euroleague teams were sanctioned without contesting the Eurobasket 2017. In the end there was no sanction, no peace; yes calm tense. The tournament chaired by Jordi Bertomeu went from 16 to 18 teams in 2019 (34 days of all against all, quarter-final playoffs and Final Four) and, from next year, will have 14 licenses (fixed or two-year places), which there will be 16 licenses among the 20 participants of the Eurocup.

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