The FIBA Decision on the Basketbrawl: Where Do We Go From Here?

by: Mickey Ingles

FIBA just released its findings and decision on the basketbrawl between the Philippines and Australia. As expected, the international governing body for basketball came down hard on both the players and the respective basketball federations, SBP and Basketball Australia.

On the side of the Philippines, ten players were suspended for unsportsmanlike behavior. The suspensions range from a game (Japeth Aguilar and Matthew Wright) to as many as six games (Calvin Abueva). The decision clarifies that the suspension is for FIBA Basketball World Cup 2019 Qualifier games.

Coach Uichico was also suspended for 3 games for unsportsmanlike behavior. While, Coach Chot Reyes was suspended for a game and also has to pay a disciplinary fine of CHF10,000 for inciting unsportsmanlike behavior—possibly for his comments during a time-out.

As for the SBP, it was sanctioned for the behavior of both its members and of the public, and for the insufficient organization of the game. The next home game will be played behind closed doors. Further, the SBP is now under probation for the next 3 years and has to pay a disciplinary fine of CHF 250,000. A ban of two more home games will be meted out, if any unsportsmanlike behaviour occurs during the 3-year probationary period. The decision does not seem to affect the country’s hosting of the 2023 FIBA World Cup.

Three Australian basketball players were also suspended. Basketball Australia has also been fined CHF 100,000 for the behavior of its players and for abusing and/or tampering equipment, particularly the incident where they removed FIBA-approved sponsor stickers from the court.

The sanctions are all based and grounded on FIBA Internal Regulations, which we previously discussed here.

So, where do we go from here?

FIBA Appeals’ Panel

Affected parties (such as the players and the federations) have the option to appeal.

Chapter 7 of Book 1 of the FIBA Internal Regulations allows affected parties to appeal their decisions to the FIBA Appeals’ Panel. The Appeals’ Panel is made up of a panel of three FIBA judges. In cases where the penalties consist of warnings, reprimands or financial sanctions, the appeal shall be heard by just one judge.

The appeal must be in writing and must be received by FIBA within 14 days from the receipt of the decision. So, as SBP received the decision today, its appeal (if ever it chooses to appeal) must be in FIBA’s hands by August 2, 2019. A day later, and the right to appeal is deemed waived. It must also pay the CHF 2,000 non-reimbursable appeal fee. This non-reimbursable appeal fee is on top of the costs of the proceedings which will be fixed by the Appeals’ Panel and must be paid in advance.

These judges must have legal training, and more importantly, must not hold positions within FIBA. Under Paragraph 190, Chapter 7, these judges must be independent of the parties. In fact, a judge who has the same nationality as the appealing party is automatically disqualified from hearing the case.

Unlike the disciplinary investigation where position papers are enough to base a decision, an appeal will lead to a hearing and oral arguments, unless this is waived by the appealing party. These hearings normally take place within 4 weeks from the receipt by FIBA of the written statement of appeal. Parties have the right to be represented by lawyers and present evidence during these hearings. After the hearing, the panel has another 4 weeks to come up with its decision. Of course, these periods may be adjusted as deemed fit by the Appeals’ Panel. So, assuming all the periods are maxed out, you’re looking at around end Septermber 2019 for the FIBA Appeals’ Panel decision.

Court of Arbitration for Sport

 If, for example, the parties are unhappy with the decision of the Appeals’ Panel, they can bring an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) in Lausanne, Switzerland within 21 days from their notice of the decision. The CAS is the final stop in the matter. We discussed the CAS in our article on sports arbitration.

And no, there was no sanction for the selfie.

Mickey Ingles is the editor-in-chief of Batas Sportiva. He had nothing else to do on this rainy Thursday afternoon but to wait for the decision and write about it. He had previously talked about the possible sanctions here.



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