Partizan and the Serbian league have exchanged recriminations. The club is accusing the league for ignoring match-fixing and corruption allegations, while the KLS thinks Partizan's statements are full of hypocrisy and false concern.

Credit: Partizan Mozzart Bet/Dragana Stjepanovic
Credit Partizan Mozzart Bet/Dragana Stjepanovic

The Serbian Basketball League is organizing a seminar on Stara Planina ahead of the new season in order to improve the competition and preserve integrity.

This year, the president of Crvena Zvezda Meridianbet Belgrade, Nebojsa Covic, as well as the representative of Partizan Mozzart Bet Belgrade, Mladjan Silobad, also attended the event.

"We had good and constructive sessions with the presidency and the assembly of the KLS. We dealt with the statute, new regulations, lists of delegates, judges and controllers," Covic described in a conversation with the media. Red Star's president went on to reveal that the league would launch an initiative on the formation of a professional KLS in two seasons, in order to reach possible entry into European competitions through it. 

Aleksandar Gruji, director of KLS, added that, starting from 2025, both Serbian powerhouses agreed to leave the Adriatic League and participate only in the domestic competition. 

"We have agreed that from the 2025/6 season. our league turns professional. And that all clubs, starting from Red Star and Partizan will find a way into European competitions through our competition. This would mean the formation of a strong Serbian league in which our best teams would play, because they would no longer have the need to participate in the regional competition," he stated. 

However, Grujin's remarks didn't go down well with Partizan, who reacted to the information that the club had agreed to exit the ABA League.

"Partizan informs the fans and supporters of the club that, as we expected, all proposed General acts of the league were adopted at the held Assembly of the Basketball League of Serbia, about whose incredible content and our position we informed the public in detail before the Assembly was held. Partizan voted against all such decisions, but they were adopted anyway without any obstacles," the announcement reads. 

"At the session of the Assembly, there was no mention of match fixing of KLS about which FIBA is conducting a large investigation and which initiated proceedings against a large number of players, nor was there any mention of the responsibility of the league management for not preventing such embarrassment of the league, nor was there any mention of changes in the competition system ahead of the upcoming season.

Members of the Assembly for some reason believe that everything about this league is ideal and that nothing should be changed, and that neither they nor the public in Serbia should be informed in more detail about the established match fixing. We knew before and now we've confirmed it, that the vast majority of members aren't bothered by such things at all."

Partizan make clear that they have "no idea or intention to leave the ABA League, nor to undertake any activities against the ABA League."

"Whether Crvena Zvezda will leave the ABA League is entirely their decision, which we have nothing to do with. In order for KLS to be a National League in a regular and worthy basketball country, it must come back under the auspices of the Serbian Basketball Federation," Partizan's press release mentioned.

The Serbian league replied to the club with an announcement, where they point out that Partizan's representative Mladjan Silobad attended the session, but abstained from voting on all items on the agenda and didn't participate "in any constructive discussion and debate on any of the numerous issues that are essential for Serbian basketball and its future."

The KLS also denies that a single word was spoken about the exit of any Serbian club from the ABA League, arguing that only guidelines were given on how to form a stronger Serbian league in the near future.

"Partizan showed with this announcement that the ABA League (against which we have nothing) is more beloved and closer to them than the domestic Serbian Championship," the KLS's release reads. 

The league defends itself against Partizan's allegations about tolerating match fixing by stating that the issue was in fact discussed immediately after the Assembly.

"If Partizan's rep had stayed, he could have heard a lot about how we are fighting to preserve the integrity of the league and basketball as a game, suspicions about match fixing, but also numerous persons, among whom are officials from certain 'famous' clubs that have been known for many years for tickets and bookmakers," the Serbian league contends.

The KLS thinks Partizan's stance and desire to put the Serbian championship under the auspices of the federation is dictated by the club's intention to escape sanctions for withdrawing from league contention in two straight seasons (2021-23). 

"Is it a coincidence that after an incident never before seen in the world (the withdrawal of KK Partizan from participation in the Serbian league), the KSS did not accept, and persistently avoids sanctioning the club with a penalty that is appropriate (and prescribed) for such a violation?" the league asks. 

"Finally, we see the statement of KK Partizan as the culmination of hypocrisy, insincere and false concern for the wellbeing of Serbian club basketball, after everything they have shown in their actions in the previous two seasons. But also as a proof that the desire to return the league under the auspices of KSS is insincere and related only to narrow club interest, which we have witnessed for years in the past," the Serbian league notes. 

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