Fiba secretary general Andreas Zagklis says changes to the format of the Fiba Basketball World Cup and the organisation’s qualification criteria are designed to make competition more intense at this year’s event in China and increase the likelihood that all of the games will sell out.
Speaking at the Sports Decision Makers Summit, Zagklis said: “We are not playing any more in groups of six where four would qualify, like in the previous World Cups. We are playing in groups of four where only the first two qualify, so the margin of error for each national team is much smaller now. Already, as of day one, the teams are very nervous as to how they perform.”
The event will feature 32 teams – up from 24 – from the Americas, Asia, Europe and Africa. In addition to this, changes to Fiba qualification criteria mean seven teams will confirm their qualification for next year’s Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games, a further group of teams will qualify for an additional play-off tournament where the final spots for the Olympics will be decided.
“We’re not only playing for the Naismith Trophy,” Zagklis told SportBusiness. “Even the teams within the top eight will battle until the last day of the World Cup to determine who is either going to the Olympics or to the tournament where they can fight for a spot.”
Zagklis said fans would also notice changes to the World Cup television product. Fiba has increased the number of cameras covering the event and, for the first time, the referees will wear microphones.
“We will have microphones on the referees that we will activate in certain moments of the game very carefully, and live, in particular during the moment of the instant TV replay. There are several situations where we want our fans to understand what is happening.”