IHF and the Clubs — satisfaction with the money but not with the competition calendar?

As we reported yesterday, the IHF has just agreed to pay compensation in different forms to the clubs and federations whose players participate in the Men's World Championships. The overall amount is in the order of 3.8 million Swiss Francs, and the compensation scheme will be implemented starting with the Championship in January 2011.

The details are now also a bit more clear. First it should be noted that the estimated costs for insuring the players against injuries related to their Championship participation is included in the overall amount quoted; this amounts to about 1/2 million Swiss Francs. Similarly included is a 'host fee' in the order of 1.2 million Swiss Francs. Another chunk of money is distributed in the form of prize money to the federations of the top four teams (200.000, 150.000, 75.000 and 25.000 Swiss Francs respectively). In addition, each of the 24 participating federations get a 'qualification bonus' of 25.000 Swiss Francs each, presumably as a gesture in consideration of the expenses incurred for their participation.

This leaves almost exactly 1 million Swiss Francs as a total compensation for the clubs. There is first a 'daily compensation fee' which is paid per player and day, and then a lump sum per player as a 'bonus for training and education'; this bonus also depends on the placement of the teams in the Championship. In total, the clubs of the players on the top four national teams receive 6.000 Swiss Francs per player, while the amount for teams placed 5th-8th is 3.800, for teams placed 9th-16th 2.100, and for teams placed 17th-24th 1.000 Swiss Francs.

This means that for someone who is a key player on his club team but happens to play for a relatively weak national team, the club is certainly not getting a very large amount in relation to the time spent on national team duty. (At this point in time, the value of the Swiss Francs and the U.S. Dollar are almost exactly the same). So it is easy to understand that the reactions vary between comments about a merely symbolic 'compensation' and the importance of having at least the principle of compensation finally established.

What has been kept more quiet is another important agenda item, where the outcome was presumably not what the clubs had hoped for, viz. the international competition calendar. Generally speaking, there have been many concerns expressed along the lines that [u]five[/u] major events in a [u]four-year[/u] period (Olympics, two World Championships and two Continental Championships) is at least one too many, at least from the perspective of Europe. However, no progress appears to have been made on this front, which is perhaps primarily a matter of 'negotiation between the IHF and the continents'.

Moreover, one competition that from a club perspective has been a particular irritant, namely the special qualification tournaments for the Olympic Games, appears to remain for the time being. This means that, just like in 2008, there will be a set of qualifying groups played in early April 2012 for the men and late May 2012 for the women. The timing, which has been protested as particularly awkward for the national men's leagues, is said to be related to "demands from the IOC". Perhaps there can be differences of opinion about the optimal timing, but it seems 'strange' that the IOC would insist on knowing the participating men's handball teams so early. Basketball holds its equivalent events in late June and early July. Indoor volleyball is scheduled for late May, and beach volleyball for July….