European Player’s Union Seeks Dialogue with IHF

Jaume Fort, the European Handball Player’s Union President and the IHF Athlete’s Commission Spokesperson, has requested a formal meeting with IHF President Hassan Moustafa to discuss issues which currently concern handball athletes. The issues include player transfer regulations, athlete representation and the recent allegations of match fixing. To date the IHF has not responded to several requests for dialogue.

A text of the most recent letter (sent on March 13th) is below:

Dear Mr. Moustafa,

I am writing as a member of the European Handball Players Union (EHPU) and the IHF Athletes’ Commission. We would like to ask you on behalf of the players for a formal meeting to discuss several issues which currently concern handball players. (In the attached document you will find some examples). At the same time, we want to take this chance to remind you that the players are willing to play an active role in the process of building the future of our sport and therefore we encourage you to use both the EHPU and the IHF AC to hear the players’ voice. It’s not only the need for social dialogue but also the will to contribute in a constructive way to the good development of handball.

Needless to say, we are very worried about the recent rumours that have questioned the spirit of fair play in the world of handball.
We look forward to a successful working relationship in the future.

Sincerely yours,

Jaume Fort
EHPU President
IHF AC Spokesperson

The referenced attachment, which is a more detailed letter sent to the IHF on January 30th is in the extended post

The International Handball Federation
Mr. President Dr. Hassan Mustafa
Barcelona the 30th of January 2009
cc.: EHF.

Hearing on the Bylaws and regulations of the IHF.
Dear sirs,

European Handball Players Union (EHPU) welcomes warmly the fact that IHF will go through their regulations to see if anything ought to be changed. As representing 1000 top players from 30 countries in the world(France, Spain, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Tunisia, Hungary, Serbia, Latvia, Germany, Algerian, China, Korea, Macedonia, Brazil, Argentina, Croatia, Bosnia, Poland, Egypt, Russia, Morocco, Czech republic, Holland, Congo, Ukraine, Slovenia, Senegal and Portugal)

In the following the EHPU will comment on the key topics of the IHF regulation from a legal point of view. It shall be stressed that EHPU finds it important that the players participate in the change of IHF bylaws. The EHPU is willing and able to take part in the different working commissions for this purpose. These comments do not pretend to be exhaustive.

[b]Re. the Bylaws [/b]
[u]Art 12.1 The Executive Committee [/u]
The article states that the Executive Committee rules in all cases in which member federations violate the IHF Bylaws.
It is in contradiction to fundamental legal principles of law having a body consisting of politicians to judge in legal cases. EHPU request the IHF to delegate this power to an independent body consisting only of members with legal education and knowledge of sport.

In addition the article does not secure the minimum legal rights of the defendant. For example the article leaves no room for the defendant to be heard before the decision is made, nor ensures that all members who shall be part of the decision making have legal capacity.

[u]Art 37 The Arbitration Bodies[/u]
In general the fees are too large, and will hinder the parties to lodge relevant complaints. There are no objective reasons for such high fees.

[b]Re the IHF Legal Provision[/b]
[u]Art 8 [/u]
It is in contradiction to European Law to hinder parties to challenge IHF Appeal Body decisions in the civil courts. The article should be abolished.

[u]Art 26 [/u]
The members of the Arbitration Committee and Tribunal shall only “demonstrate their capability to perform the specific function by means of their specialist knowledge and experience”. It should be mandatory that the judges have a legal education in order to safeguard that decisions comply with European and Swiss Sports- and Civil Law principles.
Re The Transfer Regulations
Firstly the EHPU refers to the enclosed note regarding the illegal Transfer Fees. Secondly the EHPU wants to point out the following points in the Transfer Regulations that we think would improve the transfer of players in world handball.

[u]Article 4.[/u] The EHPU wants to keep the rule that if the club or national federation has not responded within 30 days the player is free to transfer at no cost. Otherwise the player can be bound forever. If it is important enough for the clubs/federation to make a say against a players transfer the club/federation must do so within 30 days. The clubs and federations are in these cases familiar with the regulations and we are talking about the players right to change employer.

[u]Article 7[/u] should state as clear as the FIFA Rules of Transfer that Fee may not be collected. The Transfer Fees do not respect the Treaties article 39 and are therefore illegal. The IHF cannot legally keep a system that prevent handball players from exercising their sport, clearly undermines the purpose of the Associations set out in the Bylaws, and is in breach with Community Law. The Football Association applies the same purpose as the IHF without having to charge a Transfer Fee.

[u]Article 8[/u] does not ensure that national federations are obliged to handle a dispute within e.g. 5 or 6 weeks. Article 8-cases can de facto be pending for several months, which is not in the interest of neither clubs nor federations or players.
At the moment it is up to the national federations to handle contract disputes. The EHPU requests the IHF to introduce a Transfer System that applies fully to community law. The EHPU requests the IHF to seek inspiration in the FIFA Transfer Regulations that are sanctioned by the EU Commission. Key points should be the incorporation of the Webster Decision by CAS, a right for the contracting parties to terminate the contract by just cause and sporting just cause. In addition the IHF should introduce a fully capable Body to handle disputes arising in international transfers, with the right to appeal to the CAS.
In addition to this system, the IHF should instruct its member federations to implement procedural rules handling contract disputes with in reasonable time which is approximately 2 months.

[u]Article 16 and 17[/u]. There are no objective reasons for binding a player for 12 months as a professional player taking reference to the high Transfer Fees. If the Fees in some manner are to be kept within world handball, the player should be obliged to pay an additional sum if he/she within 12 months from the expiry of his/hers contract concludes a new contract.

[u]Article 26[/u] states that international treaties shall apply. Does it mean that the Treaty takes precedence over the Transfer Regulations if the Transfer Regulations are incompatible with the Treaty? Why has the IHF not yet instructed the EHF to respect the EU Treaty article 39.

[u]Education compensations.[/u] IHF should provide EHF to change regulations so that there is no education compensation for youth players. Every year several youth players have no other option but to end their handball career because of these regulations. If a country has a very strong league with a lot of foreigner players, younger local players in that country have to look for an opportunity to get competition at the right level in another country. When they want to go back their home country, they often can’t play in the best league at home, thus having to play in the second league, where clubs have no money to pay for education compensation to the clubs of origin. As a result, the player can’t play handball for a 12 month period. To avoid this, it should be possible to make a special fee without connecting it to the players transfer, like the system used by Swedish ice hockey, where the clubs pay each year a certain amount of money to a fund and after the season the funding will be handed out to the clubs that have trained players to a higher level.

[b]Re. Regulations for Players Agents [/b]
There are no international regulations about Players Agents in the handball world. The EHPU requests the IHF to introduce Regulations safeguarding that the Player Agents in world handball meet the same basic standards of counselling on different matters like in the football regulations. The only thing to be changed from the football regulations on Players Agents is that there should be no time limit for procedure in a case against a Player Agent because of bad counselling.

Best regards,

European Handball Players Union
Jaume Fort Mauri, President
Jeròme Fernandez, Vice-President