Un-Ringing a Bell?

Let’s assume for a moment that when the IHF Executive Committee meets next week they will reach the conclusion that the Kuwait – South Korea Olympic Qualification match was officiated unfairly. Not a foregone conclusion, but one that appears likely based on comments made by the IHF Secretary General, as well as the IHF website official statement.

The next question is what do you do about it? Here are some possible actions that might be taken:

[b]1) Sorry, but what’s done is done; We can’t un-ring a bell:[/b] The IHF might release a statement acknowledging that the match contained sub-standard officiating and that the Asian Handball Federation (AHF) would be reprimanded. The reprimands would be to bar the Jordanian referees from officiating future international competition and to bar the organizing official responsible for switching the referees at the last minute. And most importantly, the statement would basically say, while the events were unfortunate the IHF didn’t have jurisdiction over the AHF event, so the results will stand. The statement would then go on to emphasize that future Olympic Qualification contests would be organized and run by the IHF with assistance from Continental Federations to avoid this ever happening again.

[b]2) Stage a one game rematch: [/b]The IHF could take the unprecedented action of calling the result of the Kuwait – South Korea match null and void and scheduling a winner take all rematch. But, in doing so, a lot of logistical questions would have to be answered, including:
– Where do you play it? A neutral country; perhaps Japan again?
– When do you play it? Players are playing in club leagues and certain dates on the calendar are probably more advantageous to one country or the other.
– Who organizes the match? Does the IHF take full control?

[b]3) Stage a rematch of the entire tournament:[/b] If one match was tainted, who is to say that other matches in the qualification tournament weren’t also questionable. Maybe Japan could have beaten Kuwait as well and then Japan would have gotten 2nd place in the tournament and a spot in one of the Olympic Qualification tournaments in May. Or who knows, maybe Japan could pull off a big upset over Korea and win the whole thing. Korea also has a couple of older, veteran players (Cho and Yoon). Playing a one game rematch would be a lot easier for them then playing four games in five days.

The bottom line is that fixing the mistake is not as simple as saying “do over” is on the playground. If you look at previous sports related scandals, the end result has usually been to reprimand the guilty and say sorry to the victims. Often this is because restaging the event is too impractical. In recent years, drug testing results for Floyd Landis at the Tour de France and Marion Jones at the 2000 Olympics were handled in basically that way. You certainly couldn’t restage the entire Tour de France, so the 2nd place finisher got a hollow bump up to first place after the fact. And those examples don’t actually match this case, because as strange as it may seem, the Kuwaiti team is also a victim. While they benefited from the victory, I think it’s pretty unlikely that they had anything to do with the foul play. And I don’t know the Kuwaiti team and coach personally, but I’m guessing that if they had their way they would prefer to win on their own merits.

[b]So what should the IHF do? [/b] Well, I lean towards the one game winner take all replay match. I think it’s the most practical and fair way to handle it.

[b]What will the IHF do?[/b] Stay tuned.

And if you haven't seen the Korean TV news report on this topic,here's the link at Google Videos: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-908556008345758262

One thought on “Un-Ringing a Bell?

  1. I think they will go with # 1 because of politics. I agree they probably should go with #2. It will be very interesting to see what they actually do.

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