Greenland withdraws as host for PanAm qualifying – perhaps opportunity for USA to host?

It seems the Greenland team may yet again have to travel...

It seems the Greenland team may yet again have to travel…

The North-Caribbean (NorCa) qualifying for the PanAmerican Championship for men has been planned to be hosted by Greenland in Nuuk in October. The 2014 PanAmerican Championship is, as usual, the event that in turn decides the slots from PanAmerica for the 2015 World Championship. However, judging from firm reports on the Facebook page of the Greenland Handball Federation, they have now reached the conclusion that the hosting of the NorCa event is unrealistic for financial reasons.

Handball is a dominant sport in Greenland, and one of the few sports where Greenland has participated with some success at the international level during the last 10-15 years. So there is a substantial amount of pride involved in the support for the Greenland national team and, up to a point, also a willingness to support it financially. Their federation has made it clear that the event would be viable as far as the local arrangements and expenses are concerned. The crux is obviously the exorbitant cost of having the teams from Canada, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Mexico, Puerto Rico and the U.S. find their way to Greenland. There are no easy routes and cheap tickets available, so a charter arrangement via Canada or Iceland would have been the only realistic alternative. But even this would involves expenses in the order of US$ 700.000.

In principle, the travel costs to such events are normally borne fully by the participating teams, but both the Greenland Federation and the PanAmerican Federation have always understood that an event in Greenland would only be viable if sponsors for the travel expenses could be found, as the potentially participating teams simply could not afford it. The International Handball Federation had apparently undertaken to support the endeavor with an amount somewhat below US$ 100.000, something which is an unusual gesture in the case of a continental event. (Of course, it is the IHF that has created the tough situation for Greenland by placing them in the PanAmerican continent…!).

But the support from the Greenland authorities will not be large enough, and the search for sufficient sponsorship in the business sector has apparently been unsuccessful, despite the realization that the event could create valuable PR for Greenland. So disappointed handball fans around Greenland, who had also tried to provide support on an individual basis, now seem to be resigned to the fact that the exciting plans must be scrapped. It must be frustrating also for the national team, considering that these players, just like the women, have frequently had to undertake travel to Argentina and Brazil for qualifying events in previous years. So it had only been fair, if they had now been able to play at home.

It may now seem that the decision by Greenland may open up an opportunity for the U.S. Federation. CEO Matt van Houten alluded to this in his recent interview with John Ryan. Presumably some amount of USOC support could be counted on for such an endeavor. It would be advantageous not just from a financial standpoint but also because it presumably would give an edge to our team. But there are clearly several hurdles that need to be overcome. One perennial problem in connection with intentions in the past to host such events has been the visa question. In other words, for some of the countries involved it has previously turned out to be difficult to obtain guarantees that all their players would be given visas to enter the U.S. Based on past experience, this could hypothetically apply to Cuba, Dominican Republic and Mexico. One would hope that this would not yet again become an insurmountable obstacle if our Federation were to move ahead with the idea of hosting the event.

THN (26 Jan 2007): Greenland Handball: A National Passion:  Link