Eduardo Portela presents the ULEB Cup
Jul 16, 2002
Good morning. Welcome to Barcelona and to this act, in which we will proceed to the draw of the first ULEB Cup in history.I want to start by thanking you the trust you have put on us by signing up for this new competition.

Maybe it would be right moment to explain why the leagues that form the ULEB have made the decision to create this new competition. The answer is simple. Two years ago, some European clubs asked their respective leagues to help them solve a management problem which arose with FIBA. Two years later, and as a consequence of the continuous disagreements with FIBA, we have found ourselves in a similar situation. And that's why we acted; because one of the main functions of the leagues is to help their clubs solve their problems.

We considered the necessity to organize this competition once we were sure that the current management of FIBA Europe didn't have any real intentions to reach an agreement with the ULEB. I want to recognize in public the capacity for dialogue of Mr. Borislav Stankovic, with whom we reached agreements twice. Agreements that were even ratified and signed by the board of FIBA.

The question here is, What is it that doesn't make it possible to have a different scenario? The only reason here is the attitude of the current management of FIBA Europe, which has literally hindered and also boycotted the reached agreements twice.

After that, it was time for insults, signs of disrespect and threats to both clubs and referees.We have never replied to that behaviour. And we never will. We will stand on the respectful attitude we have always shown so far, both in public and private. And we will also maintain our philosophy of working for our clubs, trying to give the correct answer to their needs and aspirations.

Today, the answer is called ULEB Cup. We are excited with this new challenge, as difficult as the Euroleague was in its day. We will need your understanding and collaboration from the very beginning, because the aim that we have set is not easy. But we are sure that with your participation, we will be able to organize the competition that you hope for.

The leagues of the ULEB believe we are before a competition in which we have to combine the high sporting level, the demands of a competition with professional clubs, with the economical and sociological reality of European basketball. We have to give a competition which excites, because those who take part in it will know that they will be able to offer their fans and sponsors a high-level day by day, plus a sporting aim, which is the access to the Euroleague.

Is also convenient to remember that this competition will allow many clubs to develop and consolidate their sports and business projects in a real context, that is to say, in a context of a European competition, competing with those who have the same aspirations, which logically is to reach the highest level of the sports pyramid, in this case the Euroleague.

I also want to say that we have been demanding when it came to choose the teams. There are many clubs in Europe, but only those who have a present and look towards the future must be here. That's the reason why you are here today.

I want to make it clear from the beginning that if we have taken this responsibility, we have done it with all its consequences. That is to say, we know that we have the challenge to develop a project with its own personality, with an important potential, and which will have all the necessary attention to get the maximum development possible.

We won't give this project a secondary role. On the contrary, we will develop the necessary structures so that the ULEB Cup becomes a diverse and top-quality product. The first sign of our will is the decision to provide this competition with a corporative image, which we are presenting today, and which will identify the ULEB Cup and will be present in all our games.

And I don't want to conclude without inviting all those clubs who have joined us in this project, to have an active part in it. We have overcome the scenario in which the role of the clubs was limited to the playing floor. Now you have the chance to decide your own future, and this chance is, at the same time, a responsibility. We count on you to demonstrate that the step we have taken is positive and that it was what professional basketball in Europe was demanding.

I want to finish by thanking you for your confidence and your presence here today once again, and wishing you good luck during this new season.

Thank you very much.