IHF plans to split American handball met with fierce opposition

Photo: Jeff Kern/Flickr.

26.01.2018

By Mads A. Wickstrøm
To increase development and attractiveness, the IHF has decided to divide the American Continent. The decision is condemned by Pan-American handball as an assault.

On January 14, the International Handball Federation (IHF) Council decided to divide the Pan-American Team Handball Federation (PATHF) into two geographic divisions in order to “promote the development and attractiveness” of handball in the Americas, according to the IHF.

The motion to split PATHF was presented by IHF President Hassan Moustafa at the IHF Congress in Antalya in November, last year. The motion was authorised by a two-thirds majority of delegates, an IHF statement reads.

The IHF statement presents a number of justifications for dividing PATHF including, but not limited to:

  • PATHF generates limited income (except from the membership fees of the 26 National Federations and a small amount arising from registration at events).
  • The vast distances between the two continents (north and south) are inadequate for optimal contact among the federations and meetings require huge financial investments.
  • Increasing handball activities in federation countries.
  • Provide an opportunity to focus on the “Caribbean zone” with “tailor-made projects” for Beach Handball – giving countries a chance to take part in IHF events, as they would then belong to the North, avoiding the traditionally strong Beach Handball nations from the South.

PATHF: An assault on sovereignty

The IHF decision has been met with stark criticism. In an official statement, PATHF accuses the IHF Council of “assaulting” the sovereignty and the integrity of handball worldwide.

“The International Handball Federation Council, under coercion and intimidation by its president, Hassan Moustafa, decided last January 14 to force the division of the Pan-American Team Handball Federation into two separate entities, in an assault on the sovereignty of our organization and the integrity of the sport worldwide,” the statement reads.

Accusing Moustafa of manipulating the IHF Council for his own benefit, PATHF claims that decision to split the organisation is part of Moustafa’s personal vendetta against the regional federation.

“PATHF has become a victim of a sports leader that manipulates an international federation for his own benefit, a federation whose yearning to make a better world through sport has nothing to do with such petty interests,” writes PATHF.

“Nothing is further away from the sports integrity principles promoted by the International Olympic Committee that the obscurantist governance applied by Moustafa and his policy of fear against member federations,” PATHF adds.

Legal complaints

Moreover, as opposed to what the IHF states, PATHF insists that the Council decision is illegitimate because it did not obtain the necessary two-thirds of the votes at the IHF Congress in November, last year.

“[…] this decision from the IHF Council is illegitimate from its onset: the IHF Congress vote that delegated the decision to the Council did not obtain the necessary two-thirds, as opposed to what Moustafa states: of 66% of affirmative votes required, it obtained 60% (102 affirmatives, 26 negatives and 40 abstentions). And such a decision should have never been attempted to delegate in the first place,” the PATHF statement says.

Last month, PATHF President Mario Moccia filed a request before the IHF Arbitration Commission to prevent the decision from being enforced. The arbitration commission had 30 days to rule, but has not done so, according to PATHF.

“PATHF will seek all legal paths available to stop this outrage from Moustafa and to defend the integrity of worldwide handball from those forces from the past that make lack of transparency and manipulation their only sport,” asserts PATHF.

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