Euroleague chief Jordi Bertomeu has become the latest high powered figure to speak out against UK Sport’s decision to reduce British Basketball’s funding to zero.
Bertomeu, the President and CEO of the Euroleague, called the decision “disappointing” and wants UK Sport to reconsider.
“It has been quite disappointing to see this cut in the funding of basketball,” said the boss of the world’s second most competitive professional basketball league. “Moreover now that the two biggest basketball competitions in the world, the NBA and Euroleague Basketball, are making great efforts to increase the awareness of basketball in the UK market by bringing a Regular Season game and the Turkish Airlines Final Four to London.”
It was announced in May that the 2013 Euroleague Final Four will be held in London, with an option for 2014 also being extremely likely. Additionally, the Euroleague has made no secret of the desire for a London based team.
“We consider that the UK population has a great interest in basketball as it is one of the sports with the higher participation in the UK and and this is (a) fact that must be taken into account as we consider it is more relevant than the sports results of the UK National team during the Olympics,” he continued.
There has been uproar within the British basketball community since the cut has been announced, with many pointing to the wider societal impacts of the sport; it is the second most popular sport for children between the ages of 11 and 15 years old, has the highest percentage of black and minority ethnic participants and has the most participants from disadvantaged backgrounds.
“It is obvious that a basketball team needs a certain investment, and that it can only bring one medal potentially, but we have to consider the values that team sports in general and basketball in particular transmit to the fans, and how important it is to protect and enhance this. We hope this decision is reconsidered to continue with the growth of the sport and not make the work done until the moment irrelevant.”
Bertomeau joins NBA Commissioner David Stern, FIBA Secretary General Patrick Baumann, Sir Clive Woodward and a number of other high profile figures who have spoken out about the decision. An adjournment debate took place in the House of Commons on Monday discussing the issue, whilst British Basketball fought their case in front of UK Sport’s representatives on Wednesday.
An announcement on the outcome of that meeting is expected today.
A grassroots campaign has been launched at fundbritishbasketball.com with an e-petition that has already accrued over 13,000 signatures – one of the most popular petitions ever started for the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Please sign the petition if you haven’t already and spread the word!
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