06 Nov. 2023
The XXXIX Ordinary Congress of the IHF was held virtually on Thursday, 2 November, with a full agenda including highly interesting topics, such as the President’s report, an update on the Rules and game development, and several motions from the IHF Executive Committee regarding the IHF Statutes, which were approved by a two-third majority of votes cast.
With the members of the IHF Council present at the IHF Head Office in Basel, Switzerland, the Congress participants were welcomed virtually for the second time, due to several difficulties encountered during the organisational process. The Congress threw off with the opening remarks of the IHF President, Dr Hassan Moustafa, welcoming all representatives of the Member Federations.
“It was very important for us to help every member attend this Congress without any issues, such as travel, expenses, accommodation and visas. We welcome all our Members here, at the XXXIX Ordinary Congress of the IHF,” said the IHF President, Dr Hassan Moustafa.
As 117 Member Federations entitled to vote were present during the roll call carried out at the beginning of the XXXIX Ordinary IHF Congress, the quorum has been achieved as stipulated in the IHF Statutes. Since during the course of the Congress, representatives of further Member Federations entitled to vote were joining the meeting, a total of 142 Member Federations entitled to vote took part in addition to the non-voting delegates, the representatives of the Continental Confederations and guests.
IOC praised the work done by the IHF
The IHF also had the honour to welcome the Sports Director of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Kit McConnell, virtually to the Congress meeting, who gave a short speech on the importance of handball for the IOC, emphasising the good relation and cooperation between the IOC and the IHF.
Kit McConnell congratulated Dr Hassan Moustafa for the leadership of the IHF, acknowledging the innovations made by the IHF and precisely how the IHF managed to balance the traditions of a great team sport with innovations in all sorts of areas; as well as the digital engagement, the coverage and the development programmes.
Then, the IOC Sports Director talked about the possibility of beach handball being included in the programme of the Los Angeles 2028 Olympic Games.
“We know in the Olympic context as we look forward beyond Paris to Los Angeles, the importance of the US as a strategic market for handball, both for the IHF, and for the sport more generally. (It’s) one of the world's great sports and entertainment cities and we’re sure this will play a very important role in your strategic development with our support as well. We had a lot of discussions regarding the potential inclusion of Beach Handball in addition to traditional indoor handball in the Olympic Games, Los Angeles 2028,” said Kit McConnell.
“I can assure all of your Member Federations that the IHF and your President in particular pushed very hard in regard to Beach Handball directly with our President and equally with myself and all of my colleagues at the IOC and put forward a really strong proposal for the inclusion of Beach Handball in the Olympic Games in Los Angeles.”
“We know it is a great format of sport. It's easy to organise, has a very strong and growing popularity with the youth, also part of the reason again, we've included it in the Youth Olympic Games.”
“Ultimately, the challenge we had with both our side and the need for Los Angeles to control the overall cost and complexity of the Games, we had to consider that, but also consider the fairness across the different existing Olympic sports. To add some context, we had requests from 12 different International Federations to add 18 new disciplines to the Olympic Games in Los Angeles,” concluded Kit McConnell.
40-minute movie presents achievements for the IHF
The President also presented a 40-minute movie, in which he underlined the challenges faced by handball, in general, and the IHF in particular after the COVID-19 pandemic, with the resuming of all competitions over the last two years.
Several milestones were achieved during the last two years, both on and off the court, with plenty of indications that handball is moving in the right direction. The great progress made in IHF development projects, innovation and technology was praised by all the members of the IHF Congress.
Financial and auditors’ report underlines IHF growth
The financial and auditors’ report for the years 2021 and 2022, which was approved by the Congress delegates, saw the International Handball Federation cementing its financial position, resuming the activities stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
New IHF House to become the focal point of handball
Plans have been made for the IHF to move into a new business building, the IHF House. As the IHF staff is growing in view of the increased number of projects as well as the IHF’s intention to establish a library and a museum, the space currently available at the IHF Head Office is no longer sufficient.
The process of approaching the owners has been completed in order to purchase either one of the two presented buildings or both. The new IHF House shall be a good investment for the future of handball as well as a prestigious asset.
Motions cleared by the IHF Congress
Several motions from the IHF Executive Committee regarding the IHF Statutes, which had been endorsed by the IHF Council, were presented to the Congress and approved by a two-third majority of votes cast.
For example, a clause shall be included in the IHF Statutes, obliging all IHF stakeholders to respect the provisions related to manipulation of match results, match-fixing and betting as outlined in the IHF Ethics Code, considering the increased significance of the issue of manipulation of results.
Furthermore, the IHF Council shall have the right to decide if a change to the Rules of the Game (not affecting the structure of the game) may be implemented starting from the following season (1 July), considering that the change must be reported in advance to the Member Federations and Continental Confederations (by 1 March).
The IHF budget for 2024 and 2025 was also voted on, brought forward with an overwhelming majority.
Awardings and honours
Towards the end of the IHF Congress, the IHF President’s Development Awards were presented to the Dutch Handball Federation, in the category of developed handball nations, and the Turkish Handball Federation, in the category of emerging nations.
For the first time, a Top Nation Award was presented and granted to the Danish Handball Federation, after excellent performances in events hosted under the aegis of the IHF over the last two years, exemplary development activities in the country and active involvement in hosting events.
Furthermore, former IHF Managing Director, Frank Birkefeld (GER), and former IHF Treasurer and IHF Honorary Member, Rudi Glock (GER), were honoured posthumously in recognition of their untiring commitment for the sport of handball at national and international level.
Egypt hosts next IHF Congress
The next Ordinary IHF Congress will take place in 2025 in Egypt, as the Egyptian Handball Federation was the only Member Federation to submit their application to host the 40th edition of the Ordinary IHF Congress.
IHF Vice-President Asia and IHF Representative Asia confirmed
The IHF Congress also confirmed Yoshihide Watanabe (JPN) as IHF Vice-President Asia while Bader Al-Theyab (KUW) was confirmed as IHF Representative Asia until 2025.
Following the conclusion of the XXXIX Ordinary Congress of the IHF, the IHF conveys its sincere appreciation to all IHF Continental Confederations, Member Federations, players, coaches, referees, officials and all other handball stakeholders, including but not limited to Forum Club Handball (FCH) and European Handball Players Union (EHPU) for the fruitful cooperation, which has resulted in the high level of handball performance the entire world has witnessed and appreciated.