Bahrain Handball Official Speaks Out Strongly Against Asian Federation

[html] The Gulf Daily News in Bahrain, Mohammed Abul, has published two stories which allege that match fixing is nothing new for the Asian Handball Federation. The text of the articles is below.

Bahrain 'victim of match-fixing for 10 years'

BAHRAIN has been a victim of match-fixing in every continental handball competition for more than 10 years, it has been claimed.

Bahrain Olympic Committee member and former Asian Handball Federation (AHF) first vice-president Mohammed Abul says that cheating has been commonplace in all AHF-controlled tournaments since the appointment of current AHF president Sheikh Ahmed Al Fahad Al Sabah in 1993. The benefactors are usually the national team of Sheikh Ahmed's home country Kuwait and the next one or two "highest bidders".

"The AHF is corrupt," Abul told the GDN in an exclusive interview yesterday. "They like to use no-name referees, bribe them to manipulate match results and then pay them for the dirty work. Our national team has suffered many defeats because of this."

Abul noted that Bahrain had in the past been offered the same favours, but officials have always refused to pay any amount.

One of the main AHF competitions which has been rigged over the years is the Asian Men's Handball Championship. The tournament is the continent's premier event, and it acts as the qualifying competition for the world championships.

After 1993, Kuwait has won every single tournament, with exception to the 2000 competition when it did not take part.

Abul resigned from his AHF post after the arrival of Sheikh Ahmed.He has only decided to come forward now after the International Handball Federation (IHF) recently ordered that the upcoming Asian championships this month will be an IHF-supervised event.

"The right people are finally acting on the matter," he said. "It has gone neglected for too long."

A catalogue of referee errors

An analysis published by the IHF Playing Rules and Referees Commission (PRC) after the 2002 Asian Men's Championship, showed that there were plenty of officiating discrepancies in matches throughout the competition. Kuwait won the tournament, followed by runners-up Qatar and Saudi Arabia.Evidence of foul play in Asian handball is available in many forms, Bahrain Olympic Committee member Mohammed Abul says.

The proof ranges from official International Handball Federation (IHF) documents to previously broadcast match footage available on popular video-sharing website YouTube.

From one of the PRC reports made available by Abul to the GDN, a match between Bahrain and Qatar featured 16 refereeing mistakes in the first-half alone, and 13 of those mistakes were against Bahrain. "This proportion is so clear that there is an impression of an incorrect referee performance," said the report.

Another PRC report then indicated that the same referees later officiated a match between South Korea and Saudi Arabia in the same competition. A staggering 21 officiating errors were noted, 18 of which favoured the Saudis.

Based on the findings, the IHF recommended that the referees be suspended for three years, although it was later believed that the Asian Handball Federation (AHF) did not follow these orders.

Other evidence showed that during the Doha Asian Games in 2006, two referees from Kuwait who had been banned by the IHF were allowed by the AHF to officiate the semifinal match between South Korea and Qatar. The referees were said to have done their part with many questionable calls, and the hosts won 40-28.