A few items of note from the recent Women’s World Championships in China
Pool play provides a second chance: Runners-up France started this year’s tournament in dismal fashion losing to Brazil 22-20 and Denmark 24-16, before rolling off 7 straight victories over Congo, Sweden, Germany, Angola, Russia, Austria and Spain enroute to the final. A large pool of 6 teams gave France 5 games to get their act together and gel as a team. If the format had been with smaller pools of 4 or 5 teams France might very well have played in the President’s Cup.
Expat Fans: This article tells the story of a small group of French Expats that cheered on their team in China: http://www.globaltimes.cn/www/english/metro-beijing/community/news/2009-12/492415.html
Where were the fans?: The IHF put a brave face on the small numbers in attendance at their final press conference, but early round matches were very poorly attended with official crowds of 100 and in many instances less. One player blog commented that the players outnumbered the crowds in some cases. Other reports indicate that crowds for later matches were larger but inflated by what appeared to be “forced attendance” from groups that were wearing matching uniforms. Speculation aside, China was reportedly the only nation to bid for the event and the IHF should be commended for trying to promote the sport outside of Europe. The simple reality is that Women’s Handball, even more so than the Men’s game, has a very limited appeal outside of Scandinavia and the Balkans.
Chinaview.cn: IHF officials satisfied with handball World Championship in China (20 Dec 09): http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2009-12/20/content_12674741.htm
Minnows get whacked: The performance of nations like Australia, Chile and Thailand was less than spectacular and some European blogs and news reports have called for the return of the B World Championships. The B World Championships as the name implies was a secondary championship with lower ranked teams from around the world that the IHF used to hold. Entry into the A World Championships was then limited to the winners of the B World Championships in a promotion-relegation system. I’ll have more to say on this topic after I complete a “ranking of the continents” article, but here’s a story about Thailand’s experience in the meantime:
Haandbold.com: Thailand: Modest goals were achieved (21 Dec 09): http://www.haandbold.com/nyheder.php?id=19315