Will Handball minnows seize the opportunity at the IHF Congress?

As Jean Kaiser points out in his recent memo, the Handball disparity between Europe and the rest of the world is striking. Outside of the Korean women’s team and occasional flashes from the Korean, Tunisian and Egyptian men, this sport is undeniably European. Kaiser is certainly correct in his assessment that whatever is being done now in terms of development outside of Europe it’s clearly not working as well as it should.

But there’s not much that the rest of the world can do about it, Right? Well there actually is because once every four years the Handball minnows of the world, become regular size fish as the IHF Congress as each country gets one vote in the IHF election. It’s the one time in the Handball world that Ghana, El Salvador, and the Cook Islands stand on equal footing with Germany, France and Spain. The question of the day is whether these nations will seize that opportunity in Cairo, before they revert back to their minnow status after the vote.

Press accounts seem to indicate that these nations are oblivious to this opportunity and have assessed that Dr Moustafa has the three A’s (Asia, Africa, the America’s) solidly on his side. If this is indeed a solid block of nations then he will win the election. But perhaps there are cracks in this alliance?

The Asian Olympic Qualification scandal clearly exposed the split between Eastern and Western Asia and notably Bahrain even voiced displeasure with their Kuwaiti neighbors http://teamhandballnews.com/comment-n448.html which are closely aligned with Moustafa. In Africa, rifts between Arab and sub-Saharan nations have always been below the surface as Arab nations have dominated the Men’s competitions. In the America’s, the northern nations, USA, Canada and Greenland have frequently been slighted by the Latin south and those nation’s voters have plenty of reasons to cast their vote for a new administration. Less clear is what the nations in Central America and the Caribbean will decide as their programs are sometimes caught in the middle between North and South.

Another bloc of nations to consider is the Commonwealth Handball Association (CHA). This group of former UK colonies has been underserved for many years by the IHF and if the English speaking nations ever decided to vote as a bloc they could probably sway the election in either direction. http://teamhandball.blogspot.com/2005/07/time-for-anglophone-alliance.html

Finally, the dynamics of an election with only 159 total votes means that it only takes a relatively small number of voters switching sides to change the outcome. As an example, a current Moustafa lead of 90 to 69 would only require 11 voters jumping ship to give Kaiser an 80-79 victory. As hard as it may seem to believe in this wired age of the 21st century, a good portion of the voters in Cairo are likely oblivious to many of the current administration’s transgressions. And what they may have heard could be one sided and not tell the full story. Jean Kaiser will be on the ground and campaigning for votes. If he has an opportunity to speak with delegates prior to the election he has a chance to swing votes or at the very least get some delegates asking questions. And perhaps other like minded delegates will join in the campaigning as well especially when a colleague asks, “What exactly happened with Asian Olympic Qualification?” Rest assured the more debate and discussion that takes place in the margins of the hotel in Cairo before the vote, the more likely it is that votes will be swayed. Will it be enough? Stay tuned.