Kickbacks & match-fixing: An everyday story of Olympic handball
The officials of one of the most popular Olympic sports meet in Rome next weekend for an acrimonious special congress that could end in a walkout by European federations.
Handball, which achieved the third highest television viewing figures for the Beijing Games and is played by 20 million people worldwide, is now tainted by allegations of match-fixing, contract kick-backs and lavish life-styles for top officials.
Nonetheless the besieged International Handball Federation president, Egypt’s Hassan Moustafa, is determined to celebrate a decade in power by persuading an ‘extraordinary’ congress to give him more power – and control of the federation’s finances.
Moustafa was re-elected last year during a bizarre congress where he frequently turned off the microphone when his opponent, from Luxembourg, attempted to speak. At the special congress this weekend he hopes to make major changes to the rules installing himself as managing director, financial controller and head of marketing.
If he succeeds it may bring a split with clubs from Germany, France and Spain threatening to boycott the handball world championships, sharply reducing their value to television. Their spokesman has warned of ‘conflict in Rome.’
The European federation has written to Moustafa warning that his proposals are so badly worded they ‘cannot be used as a legal basis for the future of world handball.’ They also note, acidly, that ‘the suspicion of financial malpractice is so often made against the President of the IHF.’
Sponsors Adidas have been silent. But if the Europeans walk away and they lose their own German market, they may be forced to take sides.
SOURCE: Andrew Jennings, www.transparencyinsport.org