Disgruntled teams leaving national leagues?

Last weeks cup finals in various leagues were full of incidents. At the focus of everything was the refereeing. As a result, some of the top European teams threaten to leave their national leagues.

The “mistakes” the referees made in the Cup Finals created chaos in Spain, Greece, Turkey and Serbia.

Let’s start with Spain where Real Madrid was furious with the referees, following the controversial end of the Copa Del Rey Final against Barcelona (93-94).

The game was decided by a goaltending violation by Anthony Randolph. The referees counted the basket after watching the instant replay. This basket gave Barcelona the win and the second straight Spanish cup title in a row.

Real Madrid is one of the disgruntled teams

Afterward, Real Madrid stated that they wanted to leave the ACB unless the league officially acknowledges the mistakes. Furthermore,  the 2018 EuroLeague champions requested that the league should impose sanctions upon the three referees of the final.

Real wanted referees Juan Carlos Garcia Gonzalez, Miguel Angel Perez Perez and Benjamin Jimenez to be expelled from the ACB, suspended for several seasons and banned from ever officiate Real Madrid’s games again.

In addition, the ACB League President Antonio Martin made an official statement and addressed the situation. He acknowledged that the referees made crucial mistakes, but called for all parties to calm down and find a solution.

For its part, the Spanish Association of referees (AEBA) also released an official statement. The AEBA apologized for the referees’ performance and stated they will accept any decisions made by the ACB.

Real Madrid responded to both statements. They called both “shameful” and said that they are still working on the issue. The team is currently attempting to find legal ways to leave the ACB. Yet, no action is expected to be taken in the next three to four weeks.

Of course, the ACB does not want Real Madrid to leave the league. If this would happen it would cause all kinds of problems. Especially financial and specifically the reduction in revenue and TV rights. Furthermore, the league would become far less prestigious.

If Real Madrid left the ACB it would not jeopardize their participation in the EuroLeague, since they have a 10-year contract.

In Turkey, Anadolu Efes lost to Fenerbahce in the Final (80-70). Efes coach, Ergin Ataman complained about the performance of the refs. He received a technical during the game and was dissatisfied with many of the calls.

Ataman stated that his team “should have left the game, just Olympiacos did”. He referred to Olympiacos decision to forfeit the Greek Cup semifinal against Panathinaikos last week.

According to some reports in Turkey, the Turkish coach didn’t stop there. He confronted referee committee member Kostas Rigas and TBF board member Huseyin Besok. Expect to hear more from all parties involved.

In Greece, Olympiacos decided to leave the game against Panathinaikos and didn’t play the second half. Olympiacos protested against the refereeing during the first half. Among other things, Olympiacos was called for three fouls in the first 28 seconds of the game.

Consequently, Olympiacos forfeited the Greek Cup semi-final and Panathinaikos won the game (20-0).

The three-time EuroLeague champions were penalized for their decision to forfeit the game. More specifically, six points were deducted from their Greek Basket League standings.

That means that Olympiacos received the maximum penalty based on the rules of the Greek Basket League, rather than those of the Greek Basketball Federation. Otherwise, the deduction would only have been one or two points.

Olympiacos appealed the decision and has made it clear that they will not play against Panathinaikos again! If this happens, they would automatically be relegated to the second division. The club is now considering leaving the Greek league and joining the Adriatic (ABA) league instead.

Just like Real Madrid and Anadolu Efes, Olympiacos will not have a problem with its participation in the EuroLeague. But the Greek Basket League would be significantly affected if the “Reds” decided to play in the ABA League.

At the same time, the situation in Serbia is a bit different. The chairman of Crvena Zvezda, Nebojsa Covic, was furious with the referees after the cup final against Partizan.

A foul was called on Partizan’s Jock Landale at the buzzer. Landale made both free throws and gave his team the win and the title (76-74). Crvena Zvezda skipped the trophy ceremony in protest.

“We got robbed. It reminds me of times when we all know what was going on in Serbian basketball. The referees acted in a wicked manner towards Crvena Zvezda. A pure defense turned into a foul and a pair of free throws that decided the outcome. I ask for the State to investigate what happens in Serbian basketball and to protect the sport from sweeps like this. We got robbed by Partizan and I will never congratulate someone who steals a victory,” Covic said.

Crvena Zvezda is now considering to boycot the Serbian Cup in the future, unless the situation rapidly changes.

The aforementioned cases once again show that European basketball is full of emotions and things could get out of control at any moment. Compare this situation to the NBA where the refs make mistakes every night. But in the NBA a mistake by a referee is seen as only a mistake. Nothing else. It’s only human to make mistakes. In Europe however, people always tend to think that wrong calls by the refs are made intentionally. Simple mistakes by the refs are blown out of proportion and are immediately “explained” by the most outrageous conspiracy theories.

For its part, the EuroLeague has not addressed the situation yet. But, they wouldn’t be unhappy if the aforementioned clubs left their national leagues. The reason? The competition mid-term goal is to create a league similar to the NBA.

In other words, the EuroLeague would secretly want the European top clubs to leave their domestic leagues and play exlusively in the EuroLeague.

If that happened, the EuroLeague would be transformed into a closed league. Such a scenario would generate more income for both the league and the teams, so the competition could support the teams’ intention to leave the domestic leagues.

Overall, what happened last week can very easily wreak havoc in European basketball. Top clubs want to change the situation and threaten to leave the domestic leagues. At the same time, the EuroLeague would be happy if the top teams focused only in their competition.

The question now is whether things will get out of control or cooler heads will prevail and things will go back to normal shortly.

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