Agreement between the EHF and the European Men’s Clubs in place – but what about the IHF, and what about the women??

As we reported in advance of the meeting, the Forum of Club Handball (for men’s clubs in Europe) and the EHF met recently in connection with the EHF ‘Final Four’ and, as expected, there was mutual approval of the ‘Memorandum of Understanding’ that had been prepared for this meeting.

This means that there is mutual recognition of the roles of the two parties and their sharing of certain values and principles, and more concretely there is now agreement that work will proceed on a number of key issues: the competition calendar; the issue of compensation for clubs when players are used by their national teams; and insurance to provide compensation in the case of injuries in such situations. It is also clear that the EHF formally recognizes the FCH as representing the interests of European men’s clubs and that the FCH will be officially represented on specific EHF organs.

This is obviously a welcome indication of substantial progress; [b]but[/b], it must be kept in mind that it is limited to the area of the EHF’s jurisdiction and it is, for the moment, encompassing only the men’s clubs. Clearly, the EHF and FCH are hoping that the new ‘understanding’ will make it clear also to the IHF that no further delay is realistic as regards the establishment of a similar agreement on a global basis. And indeed, we now have it from ‘sources close to the IHF president’ that the pressure seems to have worked, as the IHF Calendar Working Group has suddenly been called in to a meeting in the next few weeks. At the same time there will apparently be a meeting between the IHF Executive Committee and its EHF counterparts. Let us hope that this creates the necessary momentum for an expansion, so that an ‘understanding’ based on the EHF/FCH model can promptly be established at the global level.

But we hope we are correct in assuming that it is just a matter of a brief period of time until the corresponding measures are also being put in place also for women’s handball. It could be argued that there is, in some very specific respects, more urgency for action on the men’s side, but surely it must be accepted that the whole spectrum of issues regarding competition calendar, release and compensation, and insurance applies also to the women. In fact, it is somewhat surprising that there have no been no pointed reassurances expressed by the EHF, which tends to be rather non-discriminatory in its approach, that the ‘understanding’ with the FCH will soon be extended to the women’s clubs. Perhaps this has something to do with the fact that the FCH has no direct counterpart for the women, and with the seeming reality that the women’s clubs have not been as vocal and cohesive in their demand for equal attention. Why is that?