Basketball Federation of India announces UBA participants will not be allowed to represent India
Such controversies between pro-leagues and national federations is not new to sports in India.
The UBA Pro Basketball League is home to several national level basketball players. In a strife quite reminiscent of the rift between the BCCI and the ICL almost ten years ago and more recently the controversy between AIFF and its objections against the Futsal League, the Basketball Federation of India has decided to bar any players or staff associated with the UBA from representing India at the national level.
BFI are affiliated with FIBA which is the international federation for basketball in the world. Quite recently on June 26, a circular was sent by the BFI to all members of BFI units around the country which carried a warning to the presidents and secretaries of these BFI Units to ensure that their players or officials do not participate in tournaments not recognised by FIBA.
The circular, titled “Non-Participation in Unaffiliated Events/Competitions/Leagues” has created quite a stir since this would prove to be a huge step down for Indian Basketball. The UBA Pro League boasts the participation of several players with international experience as well as players who are good enough for India's national basketball team.
The circular sent out reads :
“Under the FIBA Statutes & Internal Regulations, Rules and Regulations pertaining to National Events fall under the responsibility of the Basketball Federation of India. Hence it is requested to you to please ensure that any player, coach or official do not [sic] participate in any unauthorized event/competition/league.
If any event/competition/league (including the UBA) is authorized by the BFI, it will be communicated to you immediately”
To take a stand on this issue proves to be difficult as the matter and the consequences are both very ambiguous. Although the BFI cannot be blamed for following FIBA regulations, it must be kept in mind that financial support for basketball in India is close to nothing. If the BFI chooses to make good on their word, young players, coaches and referees will be affected.
The only solution, in this case, is for the BFI to authorise the UBA League. Having itself failed to launch its own basketball league, the BFI should keep in mind that the UBA has helped Indian basketballers, especially upcoming young players, to pursue the sport as a career and make a decent living from playing the game they love. If this circular is put into effect, a career in basketball would come at the cost of representing one’s own country on an international level. The choice is tough and next to impossible.
A similar circular by the BFI was released in 2015 but this is more serious as it addresses the UBA directly, mentioning the league as unauthorised on more that one occasion.
The choice between country and a pro-league career is what is in store for the players associated with the UBA at present. While the BFI have often spoken of plans to launch its own league, the bureaucratic structure of general sports in India has seen a constant postponement in all the plans to create this league. It seems unfair to the players on various counts. It remains to be seen whether the BFI will agree to authorise the Pro League in India.