«It was our most difficult decision»



The CEO of the Euroleague, Jordi Bertomeu explained this Monday in a telematic press conference about the definitive cancellation of the Euroleague season and Eurocup, announced hours earlier, that "postponing the decision" would result in "making next season even more complicated".

" Postponing the decision the only consequence it would have is to make the next season even more complicated ", assured Bertomeu by videoconference when asked if the Euroleague had not considered avoiding the cancellation playing in August as they plan to do other competitions, such as the soccer Champions League.

"If we finish in August, this would mean that the players would need a month and a half to rest and another month and a half to prepare for the following season, which would mean that we would have to start the next season in November at the earliest . If we start in November and we have to finish in time for the Games, we don't have time, "added the executive.

The main person in charge of the managing body of the two main European basketball club competitions assured that canceling the Euroleague and the European Championship is "one of the hardest and saddest decisions "in the history of the tournament, which valued" all the options to return to compete ", but it was" impossible ".

Bertomeu defended that his priority for this decision was "the health and safety" of players, technicians and fans, as well as "protecting the integrity of the competition", which would be at risk if the teams arrived with preparation uneven, with a change of format or with a reduction of equipment.

Asked about the meeting with the players he held on Saturday, Bertomeu said that his arguments were "quite solid" and that the rectors of the Euroleague had "a similar vision" as well as that the preference of the players to cancel the tournament had nothing to do with having 80% of their salary insured in the event of cancellation, while if they continued they received 85%.

" I don't think that 5% was the reason they didn't want to return I don't remember any of the players who were there talking about the economy. They talked about the short preparation time, and it was difficult for them to come back and be at the level required by the competition, "revealed Bertomeu.

The next Euroleague will keep the same 18 teams a decision that according to Bertomeu was made "for justice and consistency", since by not having finished it is not possible to "reward anyone" with access to maximum competition.

However, Bertomeu did leave the door open for a future expansion of the Euroleague . "One of the things we have learned from this crisis is that the distance between our clubs and the domestic leagues is increasing and it is increasingly difficult to combine both," said the executive.

" Our latest version of the Euroleague is something fresh, something new that has shown our clubs and I think this needs to be accelerated. All clubs are convinced of this principle and we are working on this, "he continued.

When asked how many they intend to take the next expansion of the current 18 participants, Bertomeu said that "they have not had the discussion" because the current season has been canceled, and clarified that its expansion it refers to looking for clubs in certain countries rather than increasing the number .

"We definitely have the plan to expand the league to some markets, that does not mean that we are going to increase the number of teams, there are markets like Germany, France, Italy and the United Kingdom that are strategic for the future but that means we are going to increase the number of teams, "he argued.

In relation to this point, Bertomeu criticized that there are national leagues that increase the number of teams and games due to the consequences of the pandemic.

" An increase in national league games due to this pandemic I think will make it more incompatible to compete in both competitions . I believe that if we do not solve this problem it will be very difficult for our teams to continue playing in the domestic leagues. I hope that the leagues find a way not to increase the games, "he added.

For the top executive of the Euroleague it is "soon" to talk about the economic impact that the coronavirus pandemic will have for the clubs but he assured that "nobody" has proposed leaving the competition for the economic effects.

As for whether the next campaign will have to be held behind closed doors, Bertomeu considered that "in some countries" they will be able to have spectators "from the beginning" while in others there will be "restrictions" and he bet because they will reach "normality in a few months".

In the same way, if at the beginning of the next campaign the restrictions to travel between European countries continue, the Euroleague will have to "postpone matches and change dates". "We will have time to do it, of course it will not be easy, I think we cannot do more than that," said Bertomeu .

The recently canceled season had planned to end with a Final Four in Cologne (Germany), a city with which they will try to organize that event "if possible in the next season ", although the representative of the Euroleague said that it is "soon" to confirm whether it will host the end of the 2020-21 season.

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