The International Handball Federation (IHF) has barred Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates from retaking their places at the 2015 Men’s World Championship in Qatar.
Earlier this month, the Handball Federation of Bahrain and the Handball Federation of the United Arab Emirates both announced that they would not take part in the 24-nation competition in an apparent protest against the foreign policy of their neighbouring Gulf state.
Last week, both national governing bodies opted to reverse their decision and informed the IHF that they wished to compete in the tournament, which will run from January 15 to February 1 in Doha.
However, the IHF ruling council has now said it has taken the two original withdrawal letters from Bahrain and the UAE as final and, as a consequence, “did not consider any further correspondence from these two national federations”. In addition, the IHF has imposed a fine of 100,000 Swiss francs (€120,000/$104,000) on each of the two national federations for withdrawing after the draw for the tournament had already taken place.
IHF also said that in response to the decision by both nations to withdraw, it has opted to award the two free positions to the continents of Asia and Europe, based on the results of each continental governing body.
The Asian Handball Federation has nominated Saudi Arabia to take part while the European Handball Federation has selected Iceland as another additional participant in next year’s tournament. Saudi Arabia will be placed in Group D while Iceland will take the vacant position in Group C.
Spain is the reigning world champion having won the 2013 event as host nation.