With the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic putting a stop to international wheelchair basketball competitions across the globe, in Europe it was no different. All events linked to the EuroCup and the European Championships have had to be cancelled for more than a year since March 2020. Now, with all the necessary precautions and safety restrictions, IWBF Europe are aiming to slowly return to court similar to how other sports at the elite level have.

IWBF Europe’s first step in returning international competition to Europe, is to put on and host a unique tournament for eight of the highest-ranking clubs in Europe called the Champions Cup. This follows the cancellation EuroCup 2021 earlier this year in January, the regular European Club competition hosted by IWBF Europe, due to the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic. Although the highest ranked teams in Europe were invited to take part in the Champions Cup, it must be differentiated from the usual Champions League Final Four, as it does not act as a substitute for this event and for this reason, no ranking points will be awarded to the participating teams.

IWBF Europe, together with German Club RSV Lahn-Dill, are planning to organise the Champions Cup at the Rittal Arena in Wetzlar, Germany from 30th April to 2nd May.

Eight teams (4 Spanish, 3 Germany and 1 Italian) have been confirmed to participate. They are Spain’s CD Ilunion Madrid, BSR Amiab Albacete, Club Bidaideak Bilbao BSR and BSR ACE Gran Canaria, Italy’s GSD Porto Torres and Germany’s RSB Thuringia Bulls, RSV Lahn-Dill and Baskets 96 Rahden.

The structure of the tournament is based on direct elimination: four games on Friday, followed by semi-finals on Saturday and finals on Sunday.

Game schedule:
Friday 30th April
12:30 – RSB Thuringia Bulls vs Baskets 96 Rahden
15:00 – CD Ilunion Madrid vs GSD Porto Torres
17:30 – BSR Amiab Albacete vs Bidaideak Bilbao BSR
20:00 – RSV Lahn-Dill vs BSR ACE Gran Canaria

Saturday 1st May
12:30. & 15:00 – Placement Games 5-8
17:30 & 20:00 – Semi-finals

Sunday 2nd May
10:00 – 7th/8th Place Game
12:30 – 5th/6th Place Game
15:00 – 3rd/4th Place Game
17:30 – FINAL

Given the current situation, no spectators will be allowed to the games, however, live streaming will be available to allow people the possibility to be part of the action and follow the games.

Special measures have been prepared to ensure the Champions Cup can proceed safely and with the health of everyone participating in mind. Regular testing for coronavirus will be mandatory for everyone involved and the participants will form a ‘bubble’ with no contact outside the hotel and arena.

IWBF Europe would like to thank RSV Lahn-Dill and the participating clubs for agreeing to play with these arrangements in place and to take the financial risks involved.

Text courtesy of IWBF Europe & RSV Lahn-Dill. Photograph Courtesy of Jennifer Röczey (RSV Lahn-Dill)