EHF Leadership: High time to speak out and take action

The European Handball Federation (EHF) has issued an official statement regarding what it calls “IHF Matters.” The vaguely worded statement unfortunately says little and gives the impression that the press is manufacturing problems that don’t really exist.

The EHF starts out with the following sentence: “Since the publication in Der Spiegel of articles concerning the President of the IHF, the EHF has been asked for its position concerning the accusations expressed in the German magazine.”

There are a couple of problems with this statement. First off, it neglects to mention what any of the so called accusations are. This might not seem like a big deal to those who follow Handball closely and have read the Der Spiegel article in German, but there is still a sizable following that either can’t read German or haven’t seen a translation. So in short, the EHF press statement talks about accusations without stating what they are. Which leads to the second problem: Namely, that we’re not talking about idle accusations here. If you read the translations of the Der Spiegel articles you’ll find that for the most part they are rather specific and arguably factual in their presentation.

The first article focused on the 600,000 Euro personal services contract that IHF President Moustafa signed with TV distributor, Sportfive. As you recall, Sportfive, by coincidence, also won the TV rights for the IHF Championships. Der Spiegel and others have noted the inherent conflict of interest, but even Mr. Moustafa has not denied the existence of the contract.

The second article focused on the conversion of Mr. Moustafa to a paid employee and the increase in payments to IHF Council members. Most notably, a 1,567 % increase in remuneration for Mr. Moustafa and an average increase of 400% to other council members. The validity of this information may not be known to you and me, but the EHF leadership knows, because they also happen to be members of the IHF Council, the very body that approved the hiring and the honorarium increases.

This leads to the silliness of the second paragraph which seeks to give the impression that there is a massive firewall between the IHF and its preeminent continental federation. For the record, the EHF President, Tor Lian, sits on the IHF council with the title, VP Europe. The EHF VP, Jean Brihault, sits on the IHF Council with the title, Representative Europe.

The statement goes on to indicate that the EHF has received a statement from the IHF President explaining his professional situation and business contracts, as well as a letter from the IOC Ethics Committee President stating his position on the Sportfive personal services contract. However, the EHF fails to take note that the IOC President, Jacque Rogge, has spoken out and indicated that he “would not tolerate such behavior.” The EHF then notes that the IHF has agreed to its request for an audit of the financial situation and dealings of the IHF and its leadership.

Finally, the statement closes by saying that the EHF members of the IHF Council (Lian and Brihault) “sincerely hope that the press will then be in position to report the performances of the players and the teams and that the growing support of the media for this fast developing sport will be confirmed and increased.”

[b]To which I say it’s my sincere hope that Messrs Lian and Brihault quit hiding and speak out.[/b] Let me state it more clearly. Gentlemen, you don’t need an audit to better understand the situation. You’re also smart enough to know that an audit won’t uncover much of anything as Mr. Moustafa has shown that he knows how to cover his tracks. Nope. You already have more than enough information to form an opinion and take a stand. So, I submit to you the following questions:

1) Do you think Mr. Moustafa’s contract with Sportfive was appropriate or do you think it was an inherent conflict of interest? If not appropriate, are you going to do anything about it?

2) Do you think Mr. Moustafa’s hiring as an IHF employee and his remuneration increase from 30,000 Swiss Franc to 500,000 Swiss Francs is appropriate? If not, are you going to do anything about it?

3) How much of a raise did each of you get and do you think maybe that money would be better spent on world-wide handball development?

[b]Answer those questions honestly, then take some appropriate actions and guess what: The press will have nothing else to focus on but this great sport’s players, teams and performances.[/b]

EHF (25 Feb 10): EHF statement on IHF matters:
THN (25 Feb 10): IHF Payments to President and Council Members – outrageous or not?:
THN (10 Feb 10): IOC President Rogge comments on Moustafa's contract with Sportfive:
THN (28 Jan 10): Conflict of Interest – or worse !?:
THN (23 Jan 10): IHF President Moustafa had lucrative private contract with IHF’s TV partner: