Disgraceful decision on Prokop’s appeal

I commented just last week http://teamhandballnews.com/news.php?item.922 that I was fed up with writing about Prokop and with the EHF’s handling of the entire matter. It has also seemed clear to many observers, that a shameful end result of the process, in the form of a much reduced sentence, could regrettably be expected. And this was indeed precisely what happened! As indicated in the EHF announcement, http://www.eurohandball.com/article/012825/ECA+decision+on+the+Prokop+case Prokop’s suspension was cut back from 3 years to 1 year, the fine was reduced from 45,000 Euro to 10,000 Euro, and the lifetime ban from elected or honorary functions within the EHF was completely removed.

This decision of the EHF Court of Arbitration was announced at the beginning of this week. Since then, I have been ‘flooded’ with mail and phone calls from handball people who are outraged about the decision. However, as the decision was shrewdly published one day before the start of EURO 2010, it appears that most handball web sites and publications have been too busy to notice or comment on what happened. Therefore, I feel obliged to help convey to our readers the most appropriate message from among
those that I did find on the internet, namely from the Danish web site ‘Haandbold.com’. The link follows here, http://www.haandbold.com/nyheder.php?id=19670 and for those of you who do not find the Danish language so easy to manage, I will summarize.

Jesper Harborg of Haandbold.com commented that “ideally we are all equal, but in the real world some are more equal than others; the EHF has handled the matter complete incorrectly.” He goes on to remind that the EHF had already permitted Prokop’s illegal action of sitting behind his team’s bench and giving them instructions, in the games following his suspension, and he says that this illegal action should instead have served as an argument for [u]adding[/u] to the initial punishment.

Harborg further comments that “it is suspicious that the final decision came only just [u]after[/u] the Champions League group play was finished… and that one cannot leave aside the thought that if Hypo had needed one more point to qualify, i.e., the point that had been deducted from them, then one can one wonder what the Court of Arbitration would have decided on this particular aspect”. It has really gone quite far when a respectable and knowledgeable handball journalist sees reasons to make this kind of remark.

The article in Haandbold.com also makes the comparison with another very reason case, where the 5-year suspension of the accused persons was confirmed and unreduced by the Court of Arbitration. Harborg comments that “he does not even want to speculate openly about the reasons” when he compares this with the fear that EHF demonstrates when it comes to taking action against Prokop and Hypo. He finishes by saying that “should it ever happen that Prokop gains another position within the EHF, then any remaining belief in the system would be gone”, and that “it is already now difficult to shake off the impression that ‘nothing bad must happen to Hypo’, and one shudders when thinking about the possible reasons for this”.

I thank Jesper Harborg for expressing so eloquently what many think and for sparing me the need for a lengthy expression of my own frustrations and anger on this matter!