7 September 2021

Investigation into whether Belgium 3×3 basketball faked Olympic qualification

Basketball authorities are investigating if the Belgian men’s 3×3 team, which finished fourth at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, arranged fictitious games in order to qualify. Newspaper De Standaard alleges that 27 matches entered into the database of the international basketball federation (FIBA) never took place. 

The 14 countries that held the highest ranking as of 1 November 2019 were eligible to participate in the Tokyo 2020 tournament. The alleged purpose of the fraud was to increase the ranking of the Belgian men’s 3×3 team so that it would qualify ahead of Ukraine, 15th in FIBA’s rankings, for Tokyo 2020. The Ukraine basketball federation (FBU) hasn’t commented on the situation.

The newspaper alleges that the 27 fake matches took place in a remarkably short space of time – from 31 August to 30 October 2019. A player who is listed as competing in nine of the 27 tournaments told De Standaard that he didn’t take part in any of them. 

The newspaper alleges that the 27 matches are all linked to the email address of the Antwerp 3×3 team. ‘If you look at the worldwide ranking, the six players of Team Antwerp alone have more points than the 50 best players in Brazil combined, who were in 20th place in the world last week’, the Antwerp 3×3 team said in a later statement to De Standaard. ‘We were a good qualifying team at the time, and we delivered on the field in 2021. Other than that, we really don’t have any comment.’

Basketball Belgium said that the three local basketball federations have informed FIBA about the situation, and are assisting with investigations. “Basketball Belgium, Basketball Vlaanderen [Flanders] and the AWBB [the Wallonia/Brussels association] are in no way involved in the organisation of such tournaments and they have never received any file or complaint on this subject”, said Jan Van Lanschoot, President of Basketball Belgium, in a statement.

‘Basketball Belgium, Basketball Vlaanderen and the AWBB  have taken note of an article published in several newspapers on August 25, which contains information that some people have organised and/or participated in fictitious tournaments’, continued the statement. ‘These tournaments are linked to the Team Antwerp team and by extension also to the 3×3 Belgian Lions.

‘If the allegations were to prove to be correct, the federation would be harmed and by extension they would harm basketball in general. The basketball federation will consult on the next steps to be taken and future action, and it will contact its lawyers on this subject. FIBA will also be informed of the situation.’

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