It was good news for the sport of Handball that it has been determined that the refereeing in two matches under investigation was unbiased and correct, despite the attempts to influence. Additionally, I was pleased to see that the referees did their duty and reported the improper actions that they had been subjected to.
But as I pointed out in my earlier commentary, “What results do you want?” http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.794, when clear evidence has been found of wrongdoing, the responsible federation MUST use this opportunity to set a very clear example, in the hope that this will serve as a deterrent. As such, it is my firm personal opinion that EHF failed to set the right example in the verdicts that have been announced. A financial punishment for HC Metalurg is not enough. There should also be a punishment in the form of disqualification from all EHF competition for a substantial period. (At least one year and probably more)
In the case of Mr. Vakula, his actions were so serious, considering his position as an EHF referee, that his disqualification needs to be permanent. I will also note that he and his partner were among the referees eliminated by the IHF not so long ago, as it was determined that they could no longer be trusted for IHF events.
(Editor’s note: The EFH official statement is somewhat vague as far as the incidents involved. According to my understanding (limited by google translation of Handball-World articles), Vakula reportedly called and texted the officials of the match in question. Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that his wife also played for the Russian club in question. For the Metalurg incident apparently the refs were offered a trip to the WC in Macedonia should a favorable account in the match was achieved. A win for Metalurg would have sent the club into the main round of the Champions League)
EHF Official Statement (22 July 2009) Arbitration Tribunal decisions:
Handball-World (German): Referee affair: Vakula suspended for four years: http://www.handball-world.com/o.red.c/news.php?auswahl=21296&GID=1
Handball-World (German) Lack of protection of the referee: Metalurg Skopje must pay a fine of 4000 euros: http://www.handball-world.com/o.red.c/news.php?auswahl=21301