Oh la la — France loses to Qatar — perhaps just ‘comme il faut’

Following the IHF Council meeting on January 27, there was a sense of ‘deja vu all over again’…  Just a couple of months ago, Qatar surprised many, and angered some, by winning the rights to host the World Championship in football 2022.  Now the IHF President was getting ready to reveal the name of the host for the 2015 World Championship.  French representatives seemed tense but hopeful – surely it would be enough to rely on recent years of successes on the court and a reputation for being able to organize events!?

But, au contraire, out of the envelope came the dreaded 5-letter word: QATAR!   A philosophical French representative was heard mumbling: c’est la vie…   but the more typical representatives were instead commenting to the French media in terms of ‘deception immense!’ (Note: deception in French means disappointment) ‘How could this have happened’, they seemed to ask.  ‘What did they do to avoid this defeat’, might have been a more relevant reflection.

Two other candidates never seemed to be in the running, namely Poland and Norway.  The Norwegian bid was heard being described as lacking in conviction.  And the Poles seemed to have done a great job of explaining in writing everything that might have been needed to answer serious questions.  But had they done any ‘selling’?  Yes, technically speaking, the only ones voting on the matter are those Council members who are not from one of the candidate countries.  But in this day and age of constant bombardment of advertising through a multitude of media, is it not obvious that a serious contender needs to create a ‘hype’, an ambience of having the winning product?

So what did the French do, en route to the final decision-making in Malmoe.  Well, they relied a lot on reputation, they used their proud French team as the ‘poster boys’ par excellence, and they seemed to feel it would be a bit too ‘gauche’ to do any heavy selling of their bid.  This may have been a major faux pas.  By contrast, the Qatari spared no effort (or riyal) to draw attention to their bid and to what would be special about a Championship hosted in their country.  The rented a banquet room and hosted a reception in what looked like a large-size Bedouin tent, with Middle Eastern food as the piece de resistance, but also with plenty of sophisticated advertising material and some small souvenirs available.

Of course, advertising and appearances are not the only considerations.  In a global sport there are different ways of enhancing the growth outside the traditional handball countries.  One of them is to allow a non-traditional, non-European country to host the Men’s World Championship every now and then.  After four consecutive events in major European handball countries 2007-2013, perhaps it is ‘comme il faut’ that one of the few non-Europeans that is likely to have capacity for such an event gets a chance in 2015.

Moreover, when Spain applied for 2011 (and later on were rewarded for 2013) they argued rather awkwardly and arrogantly that they should get the votes for 2011 simply as a major handball country that had never organized the event.  At least they were correct on the fact.  But France organized the Men’s Championship as recently as in 2001 and the women’s event in late 2007. So are they really overdue for another chance?

I do not personally know if Qatar ‘deserved’ to win, whatever this means.  But I have the sense that just because there were/are some concerns about football and 2022, it may be too easy to taint handball and 2015 with the same brush.  Also, the ‘noveau riche’ do not tend to get much respect.  But just as we accept that our teams are winning and losing, I think it now behooves the international handball family to rally around this event and do everything to ensure that it creates the global propaganda that we all are hoping for and that our sport needs.

4 thoughts on “Oh la la — France loses to Qatar — perhaps just ‘comme il faut’

  1. “When Spain applied for 2011 (and later on were rewarded for 2013) they argued rather awkwardly and arrogantly that they should get the votes for 2011 simply as a major handball country that had never organized the event.”

    Do you know what you are talking about at all?

    This is what Spain was offering, defintely awkward and arrogant, after all 99,9% of handball fans worldwide would agree that it would be the second greatest world championship bid ever, after Germany 2007. Enjoy it mate:

    • I think few would argue that Spain won’t host a great championship. And few would argue that France wouldn’t have done a good job for 2015. The point Christer was making, though, is that when you bid for a championship nowadays you’ve got to be humble in your approach. Have a good bid with guarantees of good crowds and what might come off as a righteous, “it’s our turn” attitude could result in a losing bid.

      • There are 2 different kinds of “it’s our turn” speech:

        – Lula on Rio Olympic Games 2016:

        IOC evaluation:
        – Tokyo 8.3
        – Madrid 8.1
        – Chicago 7.0
        – Doha 6.9
        – Rio 6.3

        – Spanish handball on World Championship:

        Venues in Madrid and Barcelona, two top european cities and the 2 major sport cities in Europe (so you understand my point, Real Madrid is the top european club at football and basketball and FC Barcelona the major multisport club worldwide and the best handball club of the history)

        Venue in Olympic Hall in Barcelona. I am not sure if Munich hosted games in World Championship 1982, since i hadn´t even been born, but other than that it would have been the first and only chance that a venue where an Olympic Final had been played at was included in the World Champs.

        Venue in Madrid Sports Palace, recently hosted Euroleague final 4, Eurobasketball final and hosted 15,000 spectators at a Spain-France friendly match.

        Venue in Zaragoza Sports Palace, 2 time Euroleague final 4 venue.

        Venue in Ciudad Real, home of the best handball club of the s XXI so far.

        Second venue in Madrid, where the Masters 1000 in Madrid has taken place and where tennis players such as Federer, Nadal or Agassi have won that trophy.

        Venues in 5 out of the 6 largest cities in Spain.

        13 out of the last 20 Champions League have been won by spanish clubs.

        Spain has never hosted the World Champs. Sweden 4 times and France 2

        Under these premises, is it about being anyone´s turn? Is it about being awkward and arrogant? Arrogance is claiming one´s turn when you are the worst rated bid, not when you are claiming yours under these circunstances and premises.

        Our beloved Sweden was awarded with the 2011 World championship for the 4th time, instead of Spain for an instance, which bid I just described, in a bid that didn´t include Stockholm as a venue, that its final match would take place in a town the size of Spokane, and which one of the semifinals would take place in a town the size of Cortland, NY. Not to mention the hotel capacity deficit (France and Spain national teams officially complained about it, since they were staying in hostels pretty much), or the poor, slow and mediocre official website.

        We shouldn´t be talking about how arrogant Spain can be for claiming “their World Championship”, we should be talking about how frustrating and regressive for handball can be when bids like Sweden 2011 are chosen instead of Spain´s.

        Sorry for the long reply, but sometimes it is good to put the cards on the table.

        • Again, don’t confuse the ability of Spain to host a quality a World Championship with what Christer characterized as an akward and arrogant argument. In fact, you bring up several good points which makes me wonder why Spain lost out to Sweden. I wasn’t there to hear the proposals and make judgement, but I’ve been following these sorts of decisions long enough to know that the small groups of people which make these decisions don’t make them based on a careful weighing of the proposals. Delivery matters. Little things like a nice reception matter. And being seen as arrogant mattters.

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