A Korean news report addressing the South Korea – Kuwait Olympic Qualification match has been posted at Google videos. The video is 17 minutes long and includes English language subtitles. In detail, the news report chronicles the events surrounding the controversy and clearly highlights numerous, serious officiating errors. Other highlights of the video include some non-verbal communication between a table official (presumably Kuwaiti) and the Korean bench, the on court intervention of the IHF, and Japanese fan reaction. Additionally, there is some discussion and footage of the Women’s Olympic Qualification matches in Kazakhstan. The Koreans were also concerned with the fairness of this officiating, but apparently it is not quite as obvious as the Men’s competition. Still, it is worth noting that while the Japanese Women have improved, their upset victory over Korea was a major surprise and was also their first victory over Korea in 31 years.
[b]Commentary:[/b] At best, the officiating errors highlighted in the Korea – Kuwait video are the result of inexperienced officiating. At worst, they are simply the deliberate intention of the officials to favor the Kuwaiti team. I haven’t seen the match in its entirety, so it’s theoretically possible the Korean report simply highlights the biggest mistakes of the officiating crew and leaves out all the errors that took place in favor of Korea. But there are 3 elements concerning the match that suggest that a review of the entire match would simply turn up more of the same transgressions. Those 3 elements are:
1) The decision by the Asian Handball Federation (AHF) to replace the neutral and experienced German officiating crew with the inexperienced Jordanian officials is all by itself, controversial and has never been explained or justified.
2) The on court intervention of the IHF representative, Alexander Kozhukov, is highly unusual and speaks volumes as to what was transpiring.
3) The negative and vocal reaction of Japanese fans was highly unusual for a couple of reasons. First, Japanese fans are normally pretty reserved and secondly, due to Japan’s long occupation of Korea the two nations have a historical rivalry, and it is surprising that they would intercede on Korea’s behalf.
Viewers will need to make up their own mind, but quite frankly I can’t see how anyone can come to any other conclusion than that the match was not fairly officiated.
Video: Korean News Report (with English subtitles): http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-908556008345758262