REFS LATEST VICTIMS OF FIBA-EUROLEAGUE SCRAP

Some of the leading referees in Europe are set to miss out on this summer’s EuroBasket as the fallout from the dispute between FIBA and the Euroleague continues.

It is understood that a decision is in the works that would see all of the 62 officiating currently presiding in the Euroleague and EuroCup excluded from working games in any international competitions.

The group includes several experienced refs who handled games at last summer’s Olympics in Rio, including Spain’s Juan Carols Gonzalez, who presided over the USA v Serbia men’s final. One-third of all referees at the Games were previously on Euroleague duty.

A formal announcement on the nominations is due before Easter, FIBA officials declared, with a spokesperson for the governing stating they were not in a position to “either confirm or deny” the plans.

But one senior Euroleague source, speaking on condition of anonymity, believes the proposed move could end up damaging the standard of international play.

“If Euroleague doesn’t have the top 62 refs in Europe, it certainly has the top 50. To operate a EuroBasket, you need 40.

“It’s OK with smaller youth tournaments but what happens when you get to a EuroBasket quarter-final and none of the referees have worked a game with the coaches or players before?”

It is, however, another political powerplay in FIBA’s standoff with the leading clubs that has brought pressure on national federations to sanction teams, and officials, who have opted for Euroleague competitions rather than FIBA’s revamped Basketball Champions League.

The Greek League no longer allows Euroleague refs to work domestically but a similar moratorium in Italy was ruled invalid by the country’s Olympic Sports Court.

Financially, the excluded officials will not massively lose out with entire EuroBaskets paying around £1,800 but top Euroleague whistlers picking up about £44,000 per season.

MVP understands that television commentators working on games for FIBA rights holder Perform were recently told that they would no longer be able to pull double duty by broadcasting Euroleague contests through its TV partner IMG.

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