Yes, We Can (Part 3) Urrr… No We Can’t?

Well, the IHF election results are in and the IHF delegates have spoken with a resounding 115 – 25 vote in favor of keeping Dr. Moustafa around for another 4 years. It’s bewildering to me personally that such a mandate has been awarded to an individual with such a suspect record, but I can’t argue with the results. As Jim Rome says, “Scoreboard”

I certainly have been asking myself, though, just who are these voters, anyway? Every delegate is surely unique, but I would assess that they can be grouped into 5 general categories:

[u]Group 1[/u]: Very uniformed as to what has taken place in the past 8 years and very amenable to direction from their continental peers who have provided their nation with assistance. (I would assess this group as fairly large and perhaps the largest bloc of nations. Seriously, does anyone think that the delegate from St Kitts and Nevis and other assorted small nations is well versed in handball affairs. It’s possible, but unlikely.)
[u]Group 2[/u]: Aware of Dr Moustafa’s corruption, but think that it’s minor and is outweighed by his good works (I would assess this group as fairly small because it’s a pretty big stretch for a sports federation president to actually rationale match fixing of an Olympic qualification as not a big deal. Most are also probably smart enough to realize that the heralded development of the sport is less than it should be and could have been accomplished by practically anyone.)
[u]Group 3[/u]: Aware of Dr Moustafa’s corruption, but willing to look the other way for personal, national and continental considerations (Perhaps the 2nd largest group in attendance. Around 40 delegates)
[u]Group 4[/u]: Aware of Dr Moustafa’s corruption because they are also corrupt and therefore totally on board (Hopefully, a very small grouping, but disturbingly probably larger than we would care for)
[u]Group 5[/u]: Aware of Dr Moustafa’s corruption and voted for change (Well, this total is pretty simple: It’s the 25 who voted for Kaiser)

So, if the election were to have been different, the votes could only have come from Group 1 or Group 3. For group 1 it’s the not so simple matter of changing the uniformed to the informed. Websites like Team Handball News can play a role in the education process and our website certainly has been getting a lot of visitors from all over the world lately. But while the USA was ready for a net roots revolution in 2008 for Barack Obama, the far flung handball outposts of the world were not ready in 2009. Additionally, one can not underestimate the impact of face to face contact in influencing voters. Such a campaign, however, takes money and incumbency, particularly with a subsidized travel budget, is tough to overcome.

Group 3 is a little more troubling. Ignorance is one thing, but knowing that something is wrong, and still choosing to do nothing about it? Let’s just say that history is full of examples of where that policy has ended up causing a lot more harm than good. Still this group is ripe for changing their minds four years from now if the right candidate steps forward. This year’s election results for the Chairmanship of the Playing Rules and Referees Commision (PRC) provides a clue as to how many voters were in this swing group. German Manfred Prause narrowly defeated Iranian Dawud Tawakoli. I’ve seen conflicting vote totals, but it was close, something like 70-65. It’s a pretty safe bet that Prause got every single one of the 25 Kaiser votes and then took swing votes from Group 3 to get a majority. Apparently Tawakoli’s involvement with the Asian Olympic Qualification controversy was clearly just a little too much for some voters to stomach as the new man responsible for referee assignments. This fact combined with Prause’s reputation resulted in a swing of about 40 votes when compared to the Presidential election.

So arguably a candidate with a strong reputation and one that is not seen as a total outsider could muster the “look the other way” crowd to his side next time around. But a lot of things could happen in four years and while Dr Moustafa might be emboldened by his election mandate he is also probably aware that he is also under more scrutiny. Certainly, it’s hard to imagine a move as shockingly corrupt as match fixing will ever be attempted again. And hey, I’m a reasonable guy, maybe I’ll be so impressed with new innovative world-wide development efforts and unprecedented openness and transparency that I’ll lead the cry for “four more years.”

Finally, in light of these results, do I still believe in the “Yes, we can” mantra? Well, keep in mind I never said that we could win the election, only that we could influence. I’d like to think that some portion of the 25 Kaiser voters were at least influenced by this site and/or some of the readers of this site who decided to take action on a national level. I’m also guessing that some portion of the 115 feel a little bit dirty and are annoyed that they could not make a compromised choice without criticism. But, I’ll have to acknowledge that this may just be wishful thinking on my part.

Anyway, I’ll be glad to moving on to other topics for a change. Coming up will be a commentary on the new final four Champions League format and a new national team strategy for the U.S. As always, stay tuned.