USA Team Handball seeks breakaway North American Handball Federation

The USA Team Handball Federation has indicated that they are actively seeking to form a new continental federation by splitting the existing Pan American Team Handball Federation (PATHF) into separate North and South American components. The following was posted on the US Federation website in the meeting minutes for the July 27th Board of Director’s meeting:

“Dieter Esch introduce (sic) concept of North & Central American Handball Federation. Modeled after soccer’s CONCACAF or volleyball’s NORCECA, USA Team Handball will present motion at 2010 IHF Extraordinary Congress to add a fifth continental congress after Europe, Africa, Asia and PATHF (Oceania was not replaced after its demise). A NAHF would align with PATHF on many international issues, but also include an automatic berth(s) for NAHF to Olympics and World Championships, a seat on IHF Council and a share of globally distributed IHF revenues including television. As part of this process, USATH is orienting national teams towards Europe for competitions, friendly tours, etc. until the continental question is resolved. The Board unanimously voted to support this direction.”

The PATHF was formed in 1973 and for several years was dominated by the U.S. Since 1996, however, Brazil, Argentina and other South American nations have exerted more control over the PATHF both on the court and off. In particular, a number of PATHF administrative actions have rankled North American nations. These actions include the exclusion of Canada’s participation at the Pan American Championships in 2006 and the arbitrary switching of a PANAM games qualification tournament from Puerto Rico to Chile and attempts to change Greenland’s membership status.

Aside from these political controversies a strong geographical case can be made for a separate federation. The cost of travel between North and South America is expensive and the North/South seasonal differences are sometimes problematic for tournament scheduling. And certainly, if it works for soccer and volleyball the case that it could work for Handball can also be made. A separate federation, however, will not be without controversy, particularly when it comes to Olympic/WC berths. Adding berths for a new region will mean taking them from some place else, with the likely loser being Europe.

THN (April 2006): Canada’s Exclusion from the men’s Pan American Championships- Commentary:
THN (Dec 2006): It’s a long, long way to Santiago:
THN (Apr 2007): Why the recent downgrading of Greenland’s PATHF membership is wrong: