The International Handball Federation (IHF) acknowledges the ongoing global discussion regarding the IHF Beach Handball Athlete Uniform Regulations as a result of the protest of the Norwegian women’s beach handball team at the EHF Beach Handball EURO 2021 and appreciates the feedback received from the handball as well as the non-handball community alike.
The aim of the IHF is to grow handball and all its disciplines, including beach handball, by making it more diverse and inclusive. Over the years, the IHF has launched many projects and initiatives to help achieve this objective, among others by introducing more international competitions and global education programmes for beach handball. This goal is of particular importance as the IHF aims for beach handball to be included in the Olympic programme.
Through this statement, the IHF would like to emphasise again that handball athletes are their main asset and within the organisation, the IHF will always listen to what they have to say. The IHF also organises regular meetings with the top as well as the emerging handball nations during which the current issues and problems are put on the table to be discussed and to find a solution. In 2020 and 2021, two virtual meetings between the IHF Council and all IHF Member Federations were organised so that potential issues could be addressed.
Since 2009, when the IHF Beach Handball Athlete Uniform Regulations, which were created to ensure a consistent look at IHF beach handball events, were ratified by the IHF Council and presented to the IHF Congress, no motion to change the regulations has been submitted by any IHF Member Federation and the topic has not been addressed at the above-mentioned meetings. Additionally, the IHF did not receive any complaints from players as well, not even verbally.
After the protest of the Norwegian federation at the EHF Beach Handball EURO 2021 and the resulting media coverage, the IHF and the European Handball Federation (EHF) published a joint-statement to clarify the situation.
Furthermore, the IHF would like to highlight that the IHF Commissions and Working Groups are tasked to evaluate all aspects of their respective fields before each IHF Congress and the process of evaluating the beach handball regulations, including the equipment and uniforms, had already been initiated by the IHF Beach Handball Working Group.
While alternatives to the current uniform have been already studied and elaborated by the IHF Beach Handball Working Group, the IHF cannot take a decision without analysing the implementation procedure as well and several steps need to be taken to implement new rules.
As the Athlete Uniform Regulations are an integral part of the IHF Rules of the Game (beach handball), any amendments must be approved by the IHF Council first and then be announced to the IHF Congress and reported to all IHF Member Federations, according to the IHF Statutes.
The input of the IHF Beach Handball Working Group, including their proposals regarding the uniform, will be presented to the IHF Council for approval, and shall be announced to the IHF Congress in November 2021. Up until then and even in the months after the IHF Congress, no IHF beach handball events are scheduled.
In the meantime, the IHF would like to ask all handball stakeholders to support the teams who are participating in the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, as handball at Olympic level and the outstanding achievements of the teams should be in the focus until the end of Tokyo 2020.
The IHF exerts all efforts to not only maintain but also further promote the position of handball on the Olympic Programme and, therefore, the IHF asks its stakeholders to follow the same line.