By Aris Barkas/ firstname.lastname@example.org
The Spanish Players Union (ABP) is becoming the first major players’ union in Europe to take a stance and asks the total change of the European basketball calendar on all competition due to COVID-19.
In a press release that was issued today, the ABP urges every basketball stakeholder to act: “It is time to exercise responsibility. Failure to do so can lead to a collapse of dates, a calendar that benefits no one and can bring very bad news for everyone”.
With games being constantly postponed almost in every competition around Europe, the ABP believes that it’s just a matter of time for the current calendar to create more problems that in theory can solve.
And while the press release is clearly aiming mainly at the EuroLeague, it’s obvious that everyone has to cooperate: “We have barely been in the national and European professional basketball season for a month and it is rare to have a week that no postponements are announced due to positive cases of COVID-19 in some club. The ACB matches, for the moment, are being relocated in the calendar to complete the rounds and continue advancing in the competition. If we look at the Euroleague, the same thing happens. Postponed matches, suspended trips, squads in quarantine. With a big difference, because in the Euroleague ten countries are involved with their corresponding health situations. Maintaining the same competition system has not been the most appropriate decision to ensure the health of the protagonists of our sport”.
According to ABP – and common sense – the possibility of the calendar ultimately collapsing can soon be a reality: “We will all agree that crises need strong leadership to overcome them. In our sport, in a few weeks, the calendar will not be able to be completed and solutions will have to be found. The complicated crossword that will have to be solved in order to play all the initially planned matches will test the involvement of the fans, who will not know which round or which competition that match belongs to, the logistical capacity of the leagues to relocate and find free dates and of course, the health of the players and the overload, this time even more concentrated on matches, will be unfortunately tested once again”.
The solution that ABP indirectly proposes is for all competitions to create their own “bubbles”, an idea, that due to its difficulties especially for continental competitions, has been always considered by everyone as the last option: “We have a great opportunity ahead of us to demonstrate to basketball fans that in addition to leadership, there is a shared responsibility for all those who carry out this difficult task. In these months, being responsible is not just saving your job and that no one can tell you anything. It is also adapting to the environment in which we live and building bridges that allow us to cooperate. The protocol that was applied in the final phase of the ACB in Valencia proved its effectiveness and thanks to the help and involvement of basketball players, clubs, and doctors, a resounding success was achieved. The BCL with its adaptation of the calendar has been able to protect its competition by offering much-needed flexibility. This shows that calendars and competition systems are not fixed and immutable structures. The quality of our basketball is also demonstrated by its ability to adapt to exceptional moments like the ones we are experiencing”.
The ABP is arguably the strongest players’ union across Europe, being the only one together with their French counterparts having a collective bargaining agreement with their domestic leagues and a long tradition. Plus they are representing players from four EuroLeague clubs (Real Madrid, FC Barcelona, Baskonia, Valencia).
However, they don’t have any official relationship with the EuroLeague or the Basketball Champions League, nor they have the means to pressure any other competition outside the Spanish Liga Endesa.
The position that the ABP expresses is more than interesting, considering also the fact that the president of the union, Alfonso Reyes (left on the photo), has contracted the coronavirus in March.