Trends & Features

Shooting hoops

Since 1970 the FIBA Basketball World Cup has been played in the same year as the FIFA Football World Cup. This year is no exception, as Spain will host the 2014 tournament in August-September

Although both sports are popular around the globe, the public enthusiasm and magic the Football World Cup generates is incomparable. The success of a national team during the Basketball World Cup is not celebrated with such excitement. Furthermore, if we were to ask top football players what they wanted to achieve above all in their career, they would probably answer winning the World Cup and the Champions League, while top basketball players would say winning the NBA Finals and an Olympic gold medal.

FIBA seems intent on making changes to the format of the Basketball World Cup in order to boost its popularity around the world and make it more appealing to players. To avoid a conflict with the Football World Cup, after 2014 the tournament will take place in 2019 instead of 2018 and every four years thereafter. Furthermore, it will feature 32 teams instead of 24 and the qualification stage will involve 140 teams in a home and away format.

The Great Britain men’s team failed to qualify for the 2014 Basketball World Cup and, along with the women’s team, face a critical moment in their history. In 2007 a strategy was agreed for the period 2008-2013 for both teams and key goals were defined, which were not achieved.

Neither teams managed to get out of the group stage of the London 2012 basketball tournament (the target had been to reach the quarter finals). On top of this, the men currently sit 22nd in the FIBA world ranking, while the women are 24th. The goal was to break into the top 10 by 2013.

Unable to meet these targets, UK Sport withdrew funding to British Basketball and invested in other sports it believes have better chances of winning Olympic medals.

Elite basketball teams in Great Britain face lean times in the years to come, a situation that could be considered unfair, as basketball is the second most popular team sport for people aged 14 years and above after football, according to Sports England’s Active People Survey.

The poor performances of the Great Britain teams contrast with growing sales in the basketball category. Looking at the period 2008-2013, sales of basketball footwear and apparel combined have increased by over 50 per cent to reach £38 million for the year 2013, according to NPD’s Online Consumer Panel.

Nike is the market leader in basketball footwear and has had a sector share of around 50 per cent during the past few years. adidas is stronger in apparel and led the market in 2013. Recently, Nike-owned Jordan Brand’s footwear sales have increased.

In March 2011 London hosted the first regular season NBA game in Europe. Following its success, a regular season game has taken place in the English capital every year, with the next one scheduled for January 2015.

This highlights the growing appetite for basketball in Great Britain, as well as emphasising the global popularity and profile of the NBA, which is the main driver of footwear and apparel sales in the US and internationally.

The NPD Group monitors the sales of sports footwear and sports apparel in many countries around the world. For more information call the NPD Group sports team on 01932 355580 or visit

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