In spite of the fact that there were no FIBA World Championships for Men or Women since 2002, the FIBA Central Board has made many very important decisions, including decisions related to the Men’s Championship.
The growing popularity of basketball worldwide and the fact that more and more national men’s teams were reaching the top standard, it became necessary to expand the Championship for Men from 16 teams to 24 teams. The Japan Basketball Association (organizer of the championship) has agreed that the FIBA World Championship for Men 2006 will be played (for the second time after Spain 1986) with 24 teams.
The FIBA World Championships for Youth Categories were organized as follows:
- 2003 U19 Men Thessaloniki, Greece
- 2003 U21 Women Sibenik, Croatia
- 2005 U21 Men Cordoba and Mar del Plata, Argentina
- 2005 U19 Women Nabeul and Tunis, Tunisia
It should be noted that the U19 Men 2003 has been assigned to Greece only six weeks before the start of the championship (replacement of Malaysia due to SARS) and that the U21 Women 2005 in Tunisia was the first ever FIBA World Championship held on the continent of Africa.
The main goals for the FIBA World Championships were to improve the organization of the existing championships and to study the possibility of having new FIBA world events.
The following new FIBA events were introduced or approved in the period in question.
A. FIBA U17 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS FOR MEN AND WOMEN
Upon the joint proposal of the FIBA Youth Commission and the FIBA Commission for International Competitions, the FIBA Central Board decided to abolish, as of 2007, the U21 category and to introduce, as of 2010, the World Championship in a new age U17 category for both Men and Women.
The U17 Championships will be played every two years and the FIBA Zones are strongly encouraged to introduce in 2009 the FIBA Zones U16 Championships (if not already existing) or at least the FIBA Sub-Zones Championships.
Should this goal not be reached in 2009, FIBA will invite (upon FIBA Zones proposals) the teams for the first FIBA U17 World Championships for Men and Women in 2010. We are very pleased to learn that almost all strong basketball federations have already expressed their wish to participate as well as organize these championships.
B. FIBA U19 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS FOR MEN AND WOMEN EVERYTWO YEARS
In order to provide young players with more opportunities, become internationally exposed, and gain more experience by playing games against teams coming from different parts of the world, the FIBA Central Board has decided to play the U19 World Championships every two years (instead of every four) and to increase the number of participating teams in U19 Women to sixteen, as for U19 Men.
C. DIAMOND BALL
The 1st FIBA Diamond Ball for Men (with 6 teams) was played in 2000 in Hong Kong. The idea behind this new event was to provide the world’s best teams with the opportunity to play quality games, shortly before the Olympic Games, in a country close to its venue. The latter also allowed the teams to acclimatize better when moving between continents.
The success of the first edition led to the decision of the FIBA Central Board to play the FIBA Diamond Ball regularly (2nd FIBA Diamond Ball for Men was played in 2004 in Belgrade, Serbia & Montenegro) and to have it organized also for women.
The 1st FIBA Diamond Ball for Women with six teams was held in 2004 in Heraklion, Greece.
The 3rd Diamond Ball for Men and the 2nd for Women will be played shortly before the Olympic Games 2008 with 6 teams each (the host country and the five winners of the FIBA Zone Championship 2007 will be invited).
D. FIBA WORLD LEAGUE FOR WOMEN
In order to raise the standard of the women’s basketball, FIBA and the Russian Basketball Federation agreed to organize the FIBA World League for Women 2003-2008.
The 1st edition in 2003 was played in Samara, Russia as single tournament with six teams, representing all FIBA Zones.
Due to the competition’s success in 2003, all the following editions (until today) were played with two preliminary round tournaments (four teams each) and a final round (played in Russia with eight teams), with very favorable conditions for the participating teams.
So far, the League was played in seven countries (Chinese Taipei, Brazil, Cuba, Korea, Hungary, China, Russia) with the participation of 46 teams from all the FIBA Zones.
E. BORISLAV STANKOVIC CUP
Upon the initiative of the FIBA President Carl Men-Ky Ching, the tournament for the national men’s teams was created, honoring the contribution of Borislav Stankovic, FIBA Secretary General from 1976 to 2002, to the development of basketball worldwide.
After having the Borislav Stankovic Cup played in 2005 in Shanghai, China, with six teams (Angola, Argentina, Australia, China, Puerto Rico, Lithuania) and in 2006 in Nanjing and Kunshan, China, once again with six teams (Australia, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Greece), we all wish to have it played regularly every year with the participation of at least six teams.
F. WORLD OLYMPIC QUALIFYING TOURNAMENTS
Basketball was the only sport not providing the national teams with the “second chance” opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games.
The FIBA Central Board has since decided to organize in 2008 the FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournaments for Men and Women. The basketball tournaments at the Olympic Games 2008 will be played with 12 teams. The FIBA World Olympic Tournament for Men will be played on 7th- 13th July 2008 with 12 teams from all FIBA Zones. Three teams will be qualified (in addition to China, the winner of the FIBA World Championship 2006, the winners of each FIBA Zone Championship 2007, and two teams placed 2nd in the FIBA Europe and FIBA America Championship 2007). The FIBA World Olympic Qualifying Tournament for Women will be played on 9th-15th June 2008, also with 12 teams from all the FIBA Zones. Five teams will be qualified (in addition to China, the winner of the FIBA World Championship 2006, and the winners of each FIBA Zone Championship 2007).
2. MISCELLANEOUS ACTIVITIES
A. FIBA EVENT AND MANUAL BID
In the past few decades, sports events in general and the basketball championships in particular have attracted many new entities willing to cooperate with the sport governing bodies.
National, regional, and local governing bodies, media, and sponsors became more prominent at FIBA World Championships. In order to facilitate the cooperation and to specify all the duties and obligations of all parties involved, FIBA has created a 300-page document, “FIBA Event and Bid Manual for World Championship for Men.” This manual describes in very fine detail not only the sports part of the championship, but also clarifies FIBA duties and responsibilities, as well as all the rights and obligations of all those who are, in one way or another, related to the championship (organizing national basketball federations, Local Organizing Committees, teams, officials, media, sponsors, and service providers).
The FIBA Event and Bid Manual became a much-requested document, not only from the organizers of basketball events, but also from other sports federations which expressed their very positive opinion of the Manual. A similar document for the FIBA World Championship for Women and for FIBA World Championships for Youth Categories will be launched soon.
B. FIBA RANKING
The question on the positioning of a country in the world basketball hierarchy has been raised on a regular basis.
Since 2003, FIBA has established a “FIBA Ranking,” which ranks all FIBA member countries according to their results. The ranking is established separately for national men’s teams, national women’s teams, and there is a joint ranking for both genders.
The ranking takes into consideration the results of the senior men and women national teams, as well as the results of the national teams in the youth categories in the last five years, not only at the FIBA World but also at the FIBA Zone Championships.
Despite the fact that the FIBA Ranking is relatively static due to the fact that there are few events to be evaluated regularly (every month), it still has an important media exposure and it is a very interesting FIBA promotional tool.
C. HARMONIZED FIBA CALENDAR
The growing popularity of basketball, the globalization of the basketball world, the birth of the professional basketball leagues, and a “stars” oriented marketing strategy created in recent years conflicts between governing basketball bodies, national teams, clubs, and players.
National teams and clubs were requesting additional playing days in an already overcrowded calendar in order to execute their activities with the same players. As a result, they had fewer rest periods and were not able to play at full strength for their national teams or clubs. The players became overworked, which led to increased injuries and, in return, a decrease participation in competitions.
Taking the above into consideration, in 2003 FIBA introduced the “FIBA Harmonized Calendar for Senior Men and Women Players.” The calendar year of 12 months has been divided into three parts that do not conflict with each other, providing club teams with nine months, national teams with two months, and one month reserved for the player’s holidays.
In principle, the FIBA Harmonized Calendar has been very well accepted by all parties and FIBA intends to go even further in order to avoid future problems linked to the release of players between clubs, national teams and vice versa, and general insurance policy.
D. FIBA TECHNICAL COMMISSION
For many years, there were animated discussions about whether it would be good for women’s basketball to play with a smaller ball (size 6) and to lower the height of the basketball rims. The proposal of lowering the rim attracted only few supporters and they were divided on the issue of using the smaller ball. In 2004, the FIBA Central Board finally decided to accept the proposal of the FIBA Technical Commission to play women’s games with a smaller ball. The FIBA Central Board also decided in the same year, as a part of its promotional and corporate identity strategy, to have use a bicolored basketball.
The FIBA Technical Commission conducted a survey with regards to the possible rule changes to play basketball games with 4 x 12 minutes duration and to move the 3-point line further back. The result of the survey revealed that both changes are not necessary at present. However, the Commission will run statistical surveys on various aspects of the basketball game in order to have future proposals for rule changes based on more objective basis.
E. COOPERATION WITH OTHER ORGANIZATIONS
The FIBA Central Board has decided to establish stronger relations with all the governmental or sport associations and with the organizers of the multi-sport events where basketball is part of the program.
FIBA had already had a close cooperation with the FISU (University Games) and the organizers of the Mediterranean Games.
In 2000, FIBA, the organizers of the Francophone Games and the Commonwealth Games Federation have established a very close cooperation. In 2006, in Melbourne, basketball has been introduced for the first time into the program of the Commonwealth Games. Recently, the organizers of the 1st Lusofonia Games (for Portuguese speaking countries), to be held in Macao, 7th-15th October 2006 are in regular contact with FIBA to have their Games played under the FIBA umbrella in the best possible conditions.
The cooperation with the organizers of the Continental “Olympic Games” such as the Pan American Games, all Africa Games, and the Asian Games is also in progress. The good reputation of FIBA leads to the fact that more organizations are asking FIBA for its professional help and advice in order to have the basketball tournaments played at the top level. We are providing our help in training referees, in selecting the teams, designating the FIBA Delegates, Commissioners, and Referees, approving the sport facilities and equipment, and providing logistical support (organizational manual, statistics program, and competition schedules).
In addition to the organizers of the Pan Arab and the Maccabi Games, the World Military Games and Championships, the World School Games, the Masters Games, we are ready to help and support all other organizers to have basketball as the leading sport at their multi-sport events.