Providing the name(s) is what matters!

The German Handball Federation (DHB) wants to give the appearance of being offended and mistreated, through the EHF verdict against the referees Lemme/Ullrich. In recent time, there have been several statements from DHB to the effect that “German handball is clean” and “the Bundesliga is clean”. Therefore, it is of course ‘highly inconvenient’ when a punishment against their ‘poster boys’, Lemme/Ullrich, is now pronounced. This is the only explanation I can find, when usually sensible DHB officials now get so upset.

Because I sincerely hope that it is not a general attitude they demonstrate, when their focus is on the assertion that the punishment is too harsh and should be appealed. For federations who supposedly want to participate in a serious way in the fight against corruption, it is clearly the wrong instinct to put their energy into defending anyone who has been found guilty of some kind of wrongdoing.

As handball is years behind in taking action, the situation is now that the EHF is trying to establish, for the first time, some kind of standard in determining punishments in relation to the different types of wrongdoing. Clearly it will take some time to establish a ‘catalog’ of punishments with very specific guidelines for each type of action. Indeed, for obvious reasons, one hopes that such a ‘catalog’ will never become very complete or comprehensive. Therefore, it is just not realistic and appropriate to get into arguing that is ‘unfair’ that someone gets the punishment of X+1 for infringement A, when someone else got ‘only’ X for infringement B.

As you may recall, I was disappointed that the first round of EHF verdicts seemed clearly too lenient, so I am more worried about a trend in that dangerous direction!

Of course, it is awkward that the first punishment against a referee couple involves precisely Lemme/Ullrich. And as I can personally verify, they have for many years been one of the most solid couples in the world. They fully deserved the top nominations they received from the IHF, including an Olympic final. Perhaps one could note that in this year’s World Championship in Croatia, they were no longer as strong as before, showing problems in resisting the pressures of the home team and the home crowd.

Regrettably, there is this tendency that referees do not always go out ‘on top’. Perhaps they stay on after some of the motivation is gone. Lemme/Ullrich had already notified the IHF that this would be their last IHF event, and it seems that EHF had been told the same thing regarding the Euro Championship next January. So one could note that the protest against a 5-year suspension must be more about image and prestige, because the international career of Lemme/Ullrich was about to come to an end anyway. Moreover, they would reach the mandatory age limit 3 years from now.

So back to the heading: I am prepared to believe that what really upset the EHF was the decision of Lemme/Ullrich [b]not[/b] to reveal the specific name(s) involved in the affair in Russia. This leaves the EHF with the more anticlimactic action of punishing the club for ‘not preventing’ the action of certain individuals. But perhaps, if the name(s) were to be revealed, it might turn out to be more than the EHF has bargained for…