Reports from a recent meeting, where IHF top officials met with representatives for the EHF, top leagues and top clubs, suggest that some progress was made regarding the important issues of a streamlined competition calendar and compensation for federations and for clubs whose players spend time on their national teams in IHF events. An earlier meeting seemed to have been characterized more by complications regarding formalities and procedures. In the meantime, the EHF had been able to conduct similar meetings in a seemingly more constructive fashion.
It would certainly be a positive development if the IHF now follow suits and that, if possible, [u]one[/u] coordinated process with all the relevant parties involved would be feasible. For instance, there seems to be some loosening up of a stubborn reluctance to deal with the representatives that the clubs themselves wish to choose. It also seems that there was more of a focus on possible solutions and less on obstacles.
The issue of compensation appeared to be based on a good deal of agreement on the principles involved: the IHF is prepared to share revenues in such a way that federations participating in World Championships would benefit more than in the past and so that clubs will get compensation for the fact that they are paying player salaries during substantial periods when IHF events make them unavailable to their clubs. It remains as a tough issue for negotiation to determine just [u]how much[/u] the IHF will be able and willing to provide. Clearly, the IHF needs to use a large part of its event-related revenue for global development work and other projects, but the federations and clubs will probably want to become reassured that the IHF does not make itself poorer than it is.
There also seemed to be agreement regarding the need for some kind of insurance arrangement that would cover those unfortunate situations where a club finds that a key player returns from an IHF event with an injury that makes the participation in club matches impossible for an extended period.
Perhaps it may turn out to be more complicated to get to a satisfactory agreement regarding the overall match calendar and the impact of the health and well-being on the players. Presumably all parties agree that it has gone too far, but who will be prepared to cut back on events under their jurisdiction?? IHF events and continental championships may not in themselves constitute the excessive portion of the overall schedule. Instead one might be inclined to say that continental club events are stretched out too much and that some of the top leagues involve too many weak teams and boring games. But this makes the club representatives jump and insist that also the games that are ‘useless’ on the court are valuable for the bank accounts. In other words, the income that is needed to pay player salaries becomes more important then their health. But something has to give!
It will indeed be interesting to see how this whole process continues, and it is certainly nice to see and hear some signs of optimism!