FIBA sanctions four members for COVID precautions, money grab?

By ALAN WALLS

UPDATES - Chinese Taipei and Malaysia pull out of windows, Doha bubble canceled for Groups A, B & E.

How is FIBA going to deal with this and how does it affect their sanctions against Canada, Chinese Taipei and South Korea?

It goes to show you how unpredictable this COVID pandemic is and that FIBA was completely out of line when they sanctioned the three countries for taking their proper precautions by not participating in the previous (second) window.

UPDATE (2/11/21) – Spin.ph: FIBA has allegedly pulled the plug on the staging of the Doha bubble for the third window of the 2021 FIBA Asia Cup qualifiers.


The Saudi Basketball Federation, which is one of the nations set to compete in Qatar, stated that the international governing body for basketball has postponed the games owing to the growing cases of COVID-19 in the Middle Eastern country.


FIBA has yet to release an official statement on the status of the said games.


If true, the cancellation will affect the games for three groups in the qualifiers.


Set to participate in the Doha bubble are Group A, composed of Gilas, Korea, Thailand, and Indonesia; Group B, which features China, Japan, Chinese Taipei, and Malaysia; and Group E, which has Iran, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and hosts Qatar.


Chinese Taipei and Malaysia have already announced their withdrawal from participating citing health concerns.


FIBA has also cancelled the game between Guam and Hong Kong due to the travel restrictions in place as the two teams were supposed to face off in the Manama bubble in Bahrain.


UPDATE (2/11/21) – Asia Pacific Hoops: Malaysia will not be sending a team to the final window of FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers.


Following the announcement from Chinese Taipei, the Malaysia Basketball Association have also released a statement stating their decision based on a consultation with National Sports Council Malaysia.


Malaysia suffered a devastating 48-152 defeat at the hands of Chinese Taipei, but both teams effectively give up any chance of qualifying for the FIBA Asia Cup if their remaining games are forfeited.


Japan and China remains as the only two teams left in Group B and are likely to qualify regardless of the results of the upcoming games.


UPDATE (2/10/21) – Asia Pacific Hoops: The Chinese Taipei Basketball Association confirms their withdrawal from the final window of the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 Qualifiers.


Citing a failure to meet the minimum of 10 required players and only being able to recruit seven who are willing to travel, the CTBA conceded to not being able to participate in the upcoming qualifiers in Qatar.


The East Asian team also skipped the previous window, and is set to be penalized with a fine of 160,000 Swiss Francs (roughly USD 179,500), and a deduction of two points from FIBA.


With the withdrawal, Chinese Taipei effectively gives up any chance of qualifying for the FIBA Asia Cup 2021 in August if their remaining games are forfeited.


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Welcome to The International Basketball Opinion, the only blog specifically dedicated to international basketball news, business and current events.


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.


All four were hit with fines of 160,000 Swiss Francs (CHF) (roughly $180,000), half of which 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. I have not seen anything regarding the other three associations.

Money grab on the part of FIBA? I will let you come to your own conclusion on this one…

UNFAIR, especially 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 Sport 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 make a decision between the well-being of players and staff, and sanctioning for an inability to safely participate in an international competition," the statement continued.



SAME OFFENSE – DIFFERENT SANCTIONS

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? I have NO IDEA… you’d have to ask FIBA, but makes no sense to me.

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

Huh?


BLINDSIDED

More importantly however, $180,000 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 on good faith.


FIBA’S RETORT

CBC Sports contacted FIBA, asking for their side of the story and asked if Canada Basketball was informed 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 just 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.”

$180,000 and even $90,000 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

Not just because my father is Canadian am I pulling for “The North” in this case, but because FIBA is simply 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, and 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...



OVERTIME: TRAILBLAZING MALI BASKETBALL

Some positive news here and congratulations to FIBA and the Mali Basketball Federation:

Mali Basketball Federation will become the first National Federation in Africa to transform its sporting venues into FIBA Connected Stadiums.

This looks like an amazing project by FIBA!

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Author Alan Walls is an American international basketball coach and administrator with over 26 years of experience on the youth, high school, NCAA, professional and national team levels in 16 countries and on five continents. Walls has worked with the national federations of Turkey, Romania, Palestine, Mongolia, Kenya and El Salvador as well as coached or conducted camps and clinics throughout the United States – including his native Hawai’i – Mexico, Costa Rica, Argentina, China, Hong Kong and Israel. Walls is the founder and Secretary-General of the United Nations of Basketball (2020 launch) and founder and President of the International Basketball Union (2021 launch).

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