Handball federation lifts ban on national team

Photo: querpass bilder/Flickr

Photo: querpass_bilder/Flickr


By Stine Alvad
At the Pan-American Team Handball Federation (PATHF) congress in September, the creation of a new internal court of appeal was decided. Its first act has been to change a decision made by the PATHF’s own Tribunal for Disciplinary and Ethical Matter earlier this year.

In April this year, the PATHF Tribunal for Disciplinary and Ethical Matter announced a decision on a case involving players from the Dominican Republic Handball Federation (DOM) who, with incorrect years of birth in their passports, had been participating in competitions for which they were not eligible. The Tribunal found that DOM had engaged in systemic fraud, providing players with the false passports. 

The Tribunal decided to suspend the two players involved from playing within Pan-America for three and five years respectively, to suspend the DOM president for ten years, and to suspend Dominican handball teams from participating in any competitions for three years.

See more: Severe sanctions for age fraud in handball

This decision has now been changed by the newly instated appeals court in PATHF. This new court was given the authorisation, contrary to normal principles, to intervene retroactively in the case of the Dominican federation.

The PATHF congress vote did not pass by unnoticed, and leading up the congress, then chair of the Tribunal, Christer Ahl, submitted his resignation in protest against the PATHF’s decision to allow political intervention after having established a Tribunal meant to take independent disciplinary decisions. One additional Tribunal member resigned.

"To me, it is unthinkable to collaborate with people who intentionally take unlawful decisions and who show a complete lack of respect for the concept of a Tribunal," he said in an interview with mundohandball.com ahead of the congress, noting that a procedure for an appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS) already did exist.

The new decision lifts the suspension on Dominican teams but toughens the sanctions on the federation president whose suspension from sporting jobs has now been raised from ten to 15 years.

"Suspensions to the two players were sustained and suspension to former Dominican Federation President was increased. Regarding suspension to Dominican handball, it was decided that it has been completed since that country wasn’t able to participate in several international tournaments and, also, it affects athletesthat were not involved in the denounced facts," reads the published decision on the PATHF website.

With the lifting of the suspension, the Dominican federation will be able to participate immediately in the qualification process for the Pan-American Games in 2015, which lead to the Olympic Games in 2016.

While the lengths of the bans on the two players involved have been sustained, some speculate that the suspensions could go from regional to international, because the appeals court has recommended that both the International Handball Federation and the Spanish Handball Federation be informed about the ruling. One of the involved players is currently playing professionally in the Spanish league and an international ban would therefore affect her.

According to Christer Ahl "it is legally and morally indefensible to extend in this way the punishment of a player beyond what the tribunal decided, especially as this was the player who cooperated and provided information about the methods of her federation," he says to Play the Game, condemning the outcome as the result of a politicisation of a legal process and not a proper appeal procedure. 

“It is of course less noticeable that two players and a federation president are out of the picture than if an entire national team is missing; this would send a much clearer signal about the severity of the matter and as a deterrent for the future,” Ahl says.


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