British basketball’s top referees have been locked out of the Olympic Games after it emerged that none have been included on the list of appointees for London.
The decision, taken by the sport’s governing body FIBA, has angered leading officials who have described it “as a kick in the teeth.”
It is thought that it the first time in Games history that no ref from the host nation has been asked to take part.
“People are really angry about it,” said one senior official who spoke to MVP on condition of anonymity. “It’s a great shame. There was so much effort put in to make sure the teams got into London but it seems that no-one was doing a similar lobbying job for the referees. Everyone is extremely disappointed.”
Scotland’s Chris Dodds, who took charge of last week’s EuroCup final, and Welshman Haydn Jones, who presided over last summer’s EuroBasket semi-final, are understood to have been among those put forward for selection but they will now watch from the sidelines this summer.
However FIBA defended the move, claiming their rules only specify that a certain number of referees must come from every continent.
“In appointing the referees, the Secretary General shall ensure that all FIBA zones are represented,” said a spokesperson.
“At the moment, British Basketball does not have referees that are of the highest standard required to officiate in FIBA’s leading competitions. They do not yet officiate on a regular basis in the leading European club competitions.”
British Performance Basketball chairman Roger Moreland insists that UK officials were supported in their cause to be appointed at the Games. However with the area still handled by the home associations, rather than the high performance body, there remains a feeling that a stronger case could likely have been made to persuade FIBA of the case.
“It’s disappointing because it’s a once in a lifetime opportunity and you want the best of the sport to be showcased, whether that’s event organisers, volunteers, player, administrators and referees,” he said.
“We’ve promoted all things British basketball but from our point of view, we have to acknowledge that referee appointments are a matter for FIBA. It is a disappointment to see no British officials announced for the Olympics.”
In what is being seen as a make-up call, FIBA will stage a three-day refereeing seminar during the Games.
Former BBL referee chief Wil Jones is the only British appointee to the list of Commissioners for London.
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