Handball politics overshadows Aussie team at global tournament

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As the Super Globe tournament gets underway in Doha, Australia's national team have been caught up in the politics of the sport.

There are claims Australia's national handball team has been cut adrift by the International Handball Federation (IHF), as the Super Globe tournament gets underway in Doha.

Last April, the IHF wrote to the Australian Handball Federation (AHF) explaining that it had refused the national team a place at next year's World Cup as Oceania's best team.

It has given that place to Germany instead.

In the letter, the IHF quoted a rule that states that regional bodies must have 10 member countries in order to be entitled to a place at the World Cup - Oceania currently has 8.

If Australia is unable to play at the World Cup, due to take place in January, it means it's unable to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

The letter also pointed to a gulf in class between Oceania and the rest of the world, using that as an explanation to offer Germany - a country where handball is hugely popular - a wildcard entry at Australia's expense.

The Sydney University Handball team is currently representing Oceania at the Super Globe tournament, which begins on Sunday.

Assistant coach Pascal Winkler says the decision has left his team devastated.

"Germany is a big market and is a leading nation...but for Australia, it's very disapointing and for the sport it's very damaging," Mr Winkler told SBS.
 
The AHF has argued that instead of denying Oceania a place at January's World Cup,  the IHF should instead be looking at ways to develop the sport, which had its high point in Australia at the Sydney 2000 Olympics.
 
"The International Federation needs to provide a pathway to the Olympics which they've taken away from us," player Sebastian Traverso says.
 
"It's important for the sport to grow here in the Oceania region and for the sport to remain an Olympic sport as well."
 
A meeting between the Oceania Handball Association and the IHF will be held next month in Guam, and a strong showing at the Super Globe tournament over the next week by Sydney Uni will help Oceania's argument for full admission to the world body.
 
But the Sydney University team says they're just trying to focus on the competition on Sunday.
 
"We can't go over there without any goal, and definitely we'll go over there and try and make an impact or even surprise in the first game,  that's against a Tunisian team and after that we've got Barcelona which is going to be a bit tougher," team manager, Zoran Jelicic says.

Winkler agrees.
 
"The biggest goal for us is to go over there and win a game, and show everyone that Australia has got something to offer on the world stage."

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