Handball Explainer: What’s the deal with all of the suspension announcements on the EHF webpage?

It seems hardly a week goes by that there isn’t a cryptic announcement on the EHF webpage announcing that a player is being suspended for one match as punishment for an “action of serious unsportsmanlike conduct” in the waning seconds of a recent match.

What does this mean and why does it seem to happen so often?

In almost every case what has happened is that a defensive player has grabbed or practically tackled an offensive player to prevent the offensive team from scoring. The player gets a red card, but about 5 seconds of time expires and the defense gets a chance to get better organized.

While unsportsmanlike it is unquestionably a great strategy. Two recent matches in the EHF Cup highlight just how effective the strategy can be. All rounds of the EHF Cup use two game (home and away) aggregate scoring to determine who advances to the next round. The 3rd Round was just completed and of the 16 aggregate series were played there were a lot of blowouts, but 3 matches came down to the waning seconds. And you guessed it, 2 of those 3 matches had a serious unsportsmanlike conduct in the waning seconds.

Zarja Kaspija Astrakhan/ RUS beat HC Meshkov Brest/ BLR 60-59 on aggregate and J.D.Arrate/ESP and HC Kolubara Lazarevac/SRB drew at 52 goals all (Arrate advanced on the away goal tiebreaker). And both of these teams fouled in the waning seconds to preserve their lead. The EHF has punished the offending players, both of whom will be unavailable for the first game in the next round. But…. those teams are playing in the next round. Does it take a rocket scientist to realize that maybe, just maybe, the punishment isn’t sufficient enough to deter this from happening again and again? Heck it’s even occurring in matches with little impact as evidenced by Greek side ASE Doukas fouling simply to preserve a tie vs. HC Bosna Sarajevo in a meaningless group play match.

As I’ve indicated previously http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.579 if you really want to solve this problem, the solution is to award a 7 meter throw for actions of serious unsportsmanlike conduct during the last minute of matches.

Suspension of Astrakhan player : http://www.eurohandball.com/article/11974
Suspension of Arrate Player: http://www.eurohandball.com/article/11973
Suspension of ASE Doukas player: http://www.eurohandball.com/article/011952/Suspension+of+ASE+Doukas+player

Video of ASE Doukas player foul: http://www.ehftv.com/ec/cl/men/video/000267 (The foul takes place in the last 30 seconds of the video)

Got a handball related question? Send me an email at john.ryan@teamhandballnews.com and I'll consider it for a future write-up.