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IHF suspends Pan-American handball body as dispute hots up

The Pan-American Team Handball Federation (PATHF) has been suspended by the International Handball Federation (IHF) after an appeal to the global governing body’s Arbitration Commission over a decision to split the region into two separate administrative organisations was rejected.

Hassan Moustafa, who was re-elected as president of the IHF in November, urged attendees at the governing body’s congress late last year to support a motion to split the PATHF into two bodies – the North America and Caribbean Handball Confederation and the South and Central America Handball Confederation.

The PATHF’s leaders, including president Mario Moccia, are bitterly opposed to the move. The appeal to the Arbitration Commission was reported on January 10.

However, it has now emerged that the Commission recommended to the IHF Council that the PATHF should be suspended after the organisation failed to invite an IHF representative to its Extraordinary Congress in Colombia in October – violating an article of the global governing body’s statutes.

The IHF has also claimed that the PATHF’s administrators have done nothing to raise commercial income at the organisation and for its 26 member associations, with no new sponsorship or media income generated since 2012. The IHF added that the PATHF has failed to approve the memberships of 14 more nations in the Americas that have already been recognised by the global body.

“The handball progress in Pan-America is totally behind the handball progress in the other continents,” the IHF said.

Following the suspension, the IHF said that it would organise any World Championships or Olympic Games qualifying events that would have been under the auspices of the PATHF. A final decision on splitting the Americas into Northern and Southern representative bodies is likely to be taken by the IHF Council after an IHF ballot for the motion attracted 102 votes for, 26 against and 40 abstentions.

The PATHF responded to the latest development with a furious statement, accusing the IHF and its president of “an assault on the sovereignty of our organisation and the integrity of the sport worldwide”.

It added: “PATHF has become a victim of a sports leader that manipulates an international federation for his own benefit, a federation whose yearning to make a better world through sport has nothing to do with such petty interests.

“Nothing is further away from the sports integrity principles promoted by the International Olympic Committee that the obscurantist governance applied by Moustafa and his policy of fear against Member Federations.

“The unprecedented forced division of our continental federation violates democratic and self-governance principles expressed in the very IHF statutes, as well as Swiss Law, where IHF is located. The IHF has authority to regulate the sport but never administrative matters of an independent entity.”