The Asian Qualification Tournaments for the Olympic Games for both the women and the mens teams will be replayed. This was announced after todays meeting of the IHF-council in Paris. Both tournaments will be replayed by the end of January 2008. Additionally, the IHF announce further states that, “The organisation and technical details of the tournaments will be under the full responsibility of the IHF and further information will be released within the next 72 hours”.
“We have come to a positive conclusion for the sport of Handball, which follows on from the huge success of the Womens World Championship in Paris", said IHF-President Hassan Moustafa who is under heavy pressure in regards to this issue. As previously reported at handball-world.com, the officiating at the Qualification tournaments in Almaty, Kazakhstan (women) and Toyota, Japan (men) had several grave irregularities. EHF-President Tor Lian took an unequivocal stand on the issue and he is quoted in the Danish news-portal tv2.dk, as saying: “About the worst that could have happened was if a majority would have voted against a rematch. In that case we would have been forced to reconsider our position and I believe that our colleagues from the other continents would have done the same".
[b]Commentary: [/b] This is simply an unprecedented decision, not only for Handball, but as far as I know, for any sport. I’ve seen the video and there was no question in my mind that the Men’s Tournament result was tainted. But, I am surprised at the bold decision to replay the entire tournaments and the implicit acknowledgment that goes with it- namely that the tournaments were fixed. The short statement on the IHF has no mention of reprimands or penalties, but surely they will follow.
I’m also a little surprised that the IHF decided for a replay of the Women’s Tournament. In the Korean news film there is some footage from that tournament and some complaints from the players. As well, it is also pointed out that Japan hadn’t beaten Korea in 31 years. In that tournament, Japan beat South Korea, South Korea beat Kazakhstan and Kazakhstan beat Japan. Those 3 teams also beat winless Qatar, so they were level on points, but Kazakhstan won on head to head goal differential amongst the 3 teams. While a big upset, it didn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that Japan couldn’t surprise Korea on a neutral court in Central Asia. As well, it seemed possible to me that Kazakhstan could lose only by 1 on their home floor. And I don’t know much about the inner politics of the Asian Handball Federation, but there’s no natural cultural alliance between the former Soviet republic and the Arab gulf states. So, I’m guessing there’s more evidence than meets the eye and that evidenced warranted the replay. But, I would also guess that some Kazakhs are not very happy right now.
IHF Notice: http://www.ihf.info/front_content.php?idcat=218&idart=998
Asian Women’s Olympic Qualification Final Results: http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.377
Korean News Video: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-908556008345758262