FIBA suspends Lebanese basketball federation

File photo of national team at Rafik Harriri airport.

BEIRUT: FIBA confirmed the international suspension of the Lebanese basketball federation Friday, with the national team to be stripped of their chance to compete in the upcoming FIBA ASIA Championship in the Philippines next month. The Lebanese federation failed to meet the latest FIBA requirements, as the deadline for agreement passed without a solution.

FIBA had given Lebanon until 1 p.m. Friday to solve the crisis by withdrawing the legal cases filed by Amchit and Mouttahed against the governing body, as well as all the parties signing the MOU proposed by the Asian federation and the Sports Ministry, but talks to resolve the issue reached an impasse.

Talks to find a solution were centered around withdrawing the legal cases, and in return two members would resign from the governing body to join the other six members who resigned last week. Consequently the federation would be dropped and new elections would take place.

However, things didn’t reach a happy ending with both parties exchanging conditions, even after FIBA extended the deadline until 6 p.m. Friday.

“I am deeply sorry to announce the end of Lebanese basketball which has been slayed by politics and sectarianism, as well as the parochial interests,” Sports and Youth Minister Faissal Karami said. “We have worked hard to meet the FIBA requests, but unfortunately we haven’t found a required response from all the parties, whether from the politicians or the governing body or the clubs concerned.

“We have realized everyone is placing their personal benefits over those of the common good, and we couldn’t do more to save the game. There is a dirty political atmosphere in the country and it has ruined everything, including the unity of the Lebanese society,” added Karami, who led an attempt to find a middle ground for the parties concerned.

The Lebanese basketball federation informed FIBA late Friday about the results of the meetings, with highest international authority then confirming the ban. Lebanon will now be replaced by Iraq during the upcoming FIBA ASIA Championship.

Elsewhere, the Lebanese national team were adversely affected by the current atmosphere enveloping the game, as they were dealt a narrow loss against Jordan 69-67 during the friendly Jones Cup tournament.

The players and the staff issued a brief statement from Taiwan stressing their anger over the situation.

“We will not play any more games until they go home and leave us to play for our national team. We will stand against those who are hurting our lives, because we all make a living from the game,” the statement said.

“We call on President Michel Sleiman and head of the Olympic committee Jean Hammam to act quickly to save the national team and keep our dream alive to qualify for the World Championship.”





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