The International Handball Federation – Timeline of Milestones

14 Jul. 2020

The International Handball Federation – Timeline of Milestones

On occasion of the first International Handball Week, looks back at some key dates in the history of the International Handball Federation.

4 August 1928
The forerunner of the IHF, the International Amateur Handball Federation (IAHF), is founded in Amsterdam on the occasion of the 1928 Olympic Games and under the direction of the IAAF.

8 May 1934
The International Olympic Committee decides to include men’s field handball in the programme of the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany.

1-16 August 1936
Men’s field handball is included at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, Germany.

5-6 February 1938
The first Men’s World Indoor Handball Championship is played in Berlin, Germany.
9 July 1938
The fifth, and last, IAHF Congress is held in Berlin, Germany.

10-13 July 1946
The IHF Founding Congress takes place at the Palace Hotel, Copenhagen, Denmark.

35 representatives of eight European National Federations in attendance – the hosts Denmark, along with Finland, France, Netherlands, Norway, Poland, Sweden and Switzerland, plus a further six by proxy: Belgium, Luxembourg, Austria, Poland, Uruguay and the United States of America – decide that the former International Amateur Handball Federation (IAHF), of which they had already been members, should be dissolved and that the tasks and duties should be undertaken by the newly-founded IHF.

Gösta Björk (SWE) is elected the first IHF President.

12 July 1946
The IHF is officially certified at the IHF Founding Congress.

4-8 August 1947
The first IHF International Referee Course takes place in Vejle, Denmark, with 29 referees participating.

3-6 June 1948
The second Men’s Field Handball World Championship is played in France – the first one organised by the IHF.

25-28 September 1949
The first Women’s Field Handball World Championship is played in Budapest, Hungary.

8-12 September 1950
Hans Baumann (SUI) is elected the second IHF President at the III IHF Congress, held in Vienna, Austria.

30 July 1952
A field handball exhibition match is played between Sweden and Denmark men at the 1952 Helsinki Olympic Games.

13-17 January 1954
The second Men’s Indoor Handball World Championship, the first one organised by the IHF, is played in Sweden. 

1954 Men's WCh
1954 IHF Men's World Championship

27-29 September 1954
The V IHF Congress, held in Opatija, Yugoslavia (present day Croatia), sees 25 delegates from 15 handball federations decide to organise the first “7-a-side handball for men’s and women’s teams under the official supervision of the IHF”.

31 August – 2 September 1956
The VI IHF Congress in Stockholm, Sweden, gives its approval to the French Handball Federation to organise a European club competition between city teams, upon a proposal from French sports magazine L’Equipe and French member Charles Petit-Montgobert. Two years later, it would become a tournament between the best handball club teams. The tournament would evolve into the present-day Men’s EHF Champions League.

13-20 July 1957
The first Women’s Indoor Handball World Championship takes place at three venues, outdoors, in Yugoslavia.

23-24 September 1961
The women’s European ‘Champions Cup’ is launched with Czechoslovakian sports magazine ‘Start’ providing support. The tournament would evolve into the present-day Women’s EHF Champions League.

On occasion of its 20th Anniversary, IHF Secretary General Max Rinkenburger supervises the creation and launch of the first IHF logo.

21-27 August 1966
The IHF organises its first international coaching course at the Institute of Sports in Magglingen, Switzerland, with 62 head coaches from 19 nations accepting the invitation. 

2-3 September 1966
The XI IHF Congress is held in Copenhagen, Denmark, where a proposal to see game management in indoor handball ensured by two referees is approved. IHF Congress decides that the IHF should alternately organise World Championships and Olympic Games every two years from 1970. 

1966 IHF Congress
1966 IHF Congress in Copenhagen, Denmark

The end of field handball is confirmed, as the World Championships and the European Cup do not take place due to an insufficient number of participating teams.

7 February 1971
IHF President Hans Baumann dies of a heart attack in Basel, Switzerland. Vice-President Paul Högberg (SWE) temporarily takes over his duties until the next IHF Congress.

23-24 August 1972
The XIV IHF Congress in Nuremberg, Germany, approves Paul Högberg as the third IHF President and decides to vote top management in every four years, in line with the Olympic Games cycle.

30 August – 10 September 1972 
Indoor handball makes its Olympic debut at the 1972 Munich Olympic Games featuring 16 men’s teams from four continents.

15 January 1973
The first Continental Confederation is formed, with the Confédération Africaine de Handball (CAHB) established in Lagos, Nigeria.

4-5 October 1974
The XV IHF Congress in Jesolo, Italy, decides to implement Men’s and Women’s Junior World Championships from 1977 as well as ‘B’ and ‘C’ World Championships for men and women. The IHF creates its first group of IHF Lecturers and Helge Paulsen (DEN) develops a mini ball for children.

14 January 1976 
The Asian Handball Federation (AHF) is founded in Kuwait.

18-28 July 1976
Women’s indoor handball makes its Olympic debut, alongside the men, at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games.

11-19 April 1977
The first-ever IHF Men’s Junior World Championship takes place in Sweden.

23 May 1977
The Pan American Team Handball Federation (PATHF) is founded in Mexico City, Mexico.

30 September - 7 October 1977
The first-ever IHF Women’s Junior World Championship takes place in Romania.

25-26 July 1984
The XX IHF Congress in San Diego, USA, sees Erwin Lanc (AUT), elected the fourth IHF President. The first edition of ‘World Handball Magazine’ (WHM) is also released.

The first IHF World Player of the Year Awards are given out, to the Yugoslavian pair of Svetlana Kitić (women) and Veselin Vujović (men).

World Handball Players
The first IHF World Players of the Year, Svetlana Kitić and Veselin Vujović

1-2 November 1991
The IHF Council reveals at its meeting in Vienna, Austria, that the World Youth Games, organised by the International School Sport Federation, will include handball in its programme.

15-17 November 1991
The European Handball Federation (EHF) is created at its Founding Congress in Berlin, Germany.

April 1992
Following a working group examination, ‘B’ and ‘C’ IHF World Championships are dropped with the IHF Council deciding in its meeting in Landersheim, France, to organise a singular World Championship for men’s and women’s senior and junior teams in the future, open to all.

19 July 1993
The Oceania Handball Federation (OHF) is founded in Sydney, Australia. (see 21 April 2011 for OCHF).

8-9 September 1994
The XXV Congress in Noordwijk, Netherlands, sees working groups searching for additional variations of the game to consciously and specifically appeal to “those groups of players that were not part of clubs or other federations” under the title ‘Open Air Handball’, present their findings on the beach of Noordwijk – the hour of the birth of beach handball at the IHF.

15-18 July 1996
The IHF celebrates its 50th anniversary at the XXVI Ordinary Congress, in Hilton Head Island, USA. Carin Nilsson Green (SWE), is the first woman appointed to the IHF Council as President of the Commission for Promotion and Public Relations.

A second celebration and ceremony is held in Basel later in the year acknowledging the success which saw the IHF officially at the time count 138 member federations comprising of over 800,000 teams and more than eight million players.

3-8 August 1997
The debut IHF Men’s Super Globe takes place in Wiener Neustadt, Austria.

17-19 September 1998
English is adopted as “the first official language of the IHF” instead of German at the XXVII IHF Congress, held in Yamoussoukro, Cote d’Ivoire.

Fans and IHF experts select Sinaida Turtschina (RUS) and Magnus Wislander (SWE) as women’s and men’s World Handball Players of the Century.

26-30 November 2000
Dr Hassan Moustafa (EGY) is elected IHF President at the XXVIII IHF Congress in Estoril (Cascais), Portugal.

The IHF Council decide in Frankfurt, Germany, that Asia, Africa, Europe and Pan America would be assisted to help organise the IHF Challenge Trophy, which should later become the popular IHF Trophy, aimed at developing nations. 

23-25 August 2001
Beach Handball appears as a demonstration sport at the 2001 World Games in Akita, Japan.

July 2002
The IHF moves to the current office, based on Peter Merian-Strasse in Basel, Switzerland.

March, July and September 2003
The IHF Council meet three times to discuss, and eventually decide, the creation of Men’s and Women’s IHF Youth World Championships.

30 November - 1 December 2004
The first-ever IHF Men’s and Women’s Beach Handball World Championships take place in El-Gouna, Egypt.

3-11 August 2005
The first IHF Men’s Youth World Championship takes place in Qatar.

11-20 August 2006
The first IHF Women’s Youth World Championship takes place in Sherbrooke, Quebec, Canada.

2006 Women's Youth World Championship
2006 IHF Women's Youth World Championship

Athletes at the IHF Men’s and Women’s World Championships elect the members of the IHF Athletes Commission, with five male and female players each representing the athletes voice within the IHF.

8-24 August 2008
The Beijing Olympic Games sees, for the first time in the history of the IOC, an equal number of men’s and women’s teams (12 each) in the handball competitions.

14-26 August 2010
Handball is included at the debut Youth Olympic Games, held in Singapore.

21 April 2011
The Oceania Handball Federation is re-founded as the Oceania Continent Handball Federation (OCHF). The Continental Confederation was recognised by the IHF three years later, in 2014, when they fulfilled all IHF requirements for recognition.

2-4 August 2013
Beach Handball appears as a full sport at the World Games for the first time, in Cali, Colombia.

11-16 July 2017
The debut IHF Men’s and Women’s Youth Beach Handball World Championships take place in Mauritius.

14 January 2018
The Pan-American Team Handball Federation (PATHF) is suspended by the IHF Council in its meeting in Zagreb, Croatia, with two working groups, for North America and the Caribbean and South and Central America, created in its place.

 7-13 October 2018
Beach Handball makes its Olympic debut, appearing at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina.

YOG 2018
Beach Handball at the Youth Olympic Games Buenos Aires 2018

10-27 January 2019
The IHF, with the full support of the International Olympic Committee and IOC President Dr Thomas Bach, organise for a Unified Korea men’s team to appear at the IHF Men’s World Championship in Germany.

3 July 2019
At the IHF Extraordinary Congress held in Gothenburg, Sweden, the IHF Member Federations vote on the recognition of the North America and the Caribbean Handball Confederation (NACHC) and the South and Central American Handball Confederation (SCAHC) as new Continental Confederations. 
1-14 August 2019
The debut edition of the IHF Women’s Super Globe takes place in Wuxi, China.

11-16 October 2019
Beach Handball appears at the debut edition of the ANOC World Beach Games in Doha, Qatar.

12 July 2020
The IHF celebrates the start of the first ‘International Handball Week’.