EUROPEAN HANDBALL FEDERATION
– Tor Lian, President
– Michael Wiederer, Secretary General
– Nicole Krutz – Gundolf, BU Competitions
– Competition Commission
Sarajevo, June 16th 2008
Subject: Statement concerning the interrupted play–off match between BIH and Hungary which took place on June 14th 2008 in Sarajevo
Dear handball friends,
In reference to the BIH vs. HUN match, which took place on June 14th 2008 at the sportshall “Skenderija” in Sarajevo, and the abandonment declared by the Delegate, Mr. Bjorn Ericsson (SWE), we would like to give the following statement:
- In the 49th minute of the match, when the result was 24:27, after a few connected unfair decisions by the referee pair (Leifsson/Palsson – ISL) and exclusion of the BIH player No. 14, Mirsad Terziæ, spectators at “Skenderija” sportshall, irritated by such decisions of the referees, started throwing papers and few lighters into the play field. After that, due to no special reason, players of the Hungarian team abandoned the playing field, while BIH players remained at the playing field – please see the proof – video recording of the complete match.
- After he went to the official premises, during the 10-minute period, the Delegate took no action in order to contact representatives of the BiH Handball Federation , Security Agency or Police for the purpose to continue the game or to take all necessary steps to continue the game. Following this period, in the referee dressing room, a meeting was held, with the following participants – the Delegate Ericsson, referee pair Leifsson/Palsson, as well as representatives of HUN – Skalitzky and BiH – Muzuroviæ (both Officials A in the match report). At that time, the Delegate asked the referee pair whether they were ready to continue the match and whether in their opinion the conditions were met to continue the game. The referee pair Leifsson/Palsson replied that they were ready to referee the match continuation and that there were conditions necessary for the game to be continued. The Delegate asked the representative of Hungary, Mr. Skalitzky, the same question and the latter replied that there was no way for the Hungarian team to continue the game and he left for his team dressing room. After that the Delegate, Mr. Ericsson contacted Mr. Marcus Glaser, from EHF by telephone. Following this conversation with Mr. Glaser, the Delegate Ericsson informed the referee pair Leifsson/Palsson and BIH representative Muzuroviæ that the match would be continued and left for the Hungarian team dressing room to inform them too about the game continuation. By that moment, Hungarian players had already taken off their sport equipment and some players, for example Nagy, were taking a shower. After he returned from the Hungarian dressing room, the Delegate Ericsson informed us that the Hungarian managers and players did not want to continue the game. After that, much to our surprise, the Delegate Ericsson appeared on the play field on his own and took the microphone from the official announcer in order to address the public in Sarajevo. Following his initial address in English, the spectators at “Skenderija” sportshall did not want to listen to the Delegate’s speech, but kept exclaiming “THIS IS BOSNIA”. To the astonishment of all people present at the sportshall as well as of million TV audience, probably irritated by the fact that the spectators did not listen to him, the Delegate Ericsson announced the abandonment, that is the end of the match – please see the proof video recording.
- When he was leaving the playfield, next to the dressing rooms entrance, being approximately 20 meters away from the recording table, the Delegate bent and took one lighter and a part of a mobile phone from the ground – please see the proof video recording.
- Without informing anyone from the BIH Handball Federation (there were President and General Secretary present in the premises), the Delegate went to the Hungarian dressing room and informed them that the game was interrupted. After that, while ignoring officials of the BiH Handball Federation, when asked by Mr. Muzuroviæ, BIH representative, what was going on, the Delegate replied that the match was permanently interrupted. When asked why he had interrupted the game when he could have exhausted other options prescribed by the regulations (partial or complete removing of audience), we received his answer that he was hit in the head with a mobile phone on the play field. This statement of the Delegate that he was hit in the head is an absolute lie and fabrication – please see the proof video recording of the Delegate addressing the audience in the sportshall, including his leaving on the way to the official premises. When we asked him whether the players and officials had been in danger and whether security and police officers had done their job correctly up to that moment, the Delegate replied that security was excellent and that there was no danger whatsoever for anyone, what, according to his own words, he was going to include in his official report – please see the proof video recording showing that at no time there was any danger to match participants in view of the play field breach.
Reporters from BIH (broadcasters and press) interviewed the Delegate Ericsson, who stated that the reason for the match interruption was because he was hit with a mobile phone when addressing the public. He also stated that he maybe made a mistake when interrupted the game. BIH Handball Federation possesses the above-mentioned statement and it is enclosed hereto.
We would like to repeat once again that it was a lie and fabrication – please see the proof video recording of the Delegate Ericsson addressing the public in Sarajevo.
Furthermore, we possess a video recording of the statement given by the Hungarian player No. 1, Nenad PULJEZEVIÆ, confirming that the management of the Hungarian team had no wish to continue the match – please see the proof video recording.
We also possess an audio recording of the statement given by Mr. Skalitzky, Official A and the player No. 19 Nagy Lazslo, confirming that the Delegate Ericsson did not informed the Hungarian team that they should continue the game and it also clearly confirms that the Hungarian team did not want to play any more with or without the audience. Please find enclosed the above-mentioned audio recording.
In our opinion the match was interrupted with no valid reason and in the manner, which was not prescribed by the EHF regulations (not all possibilities were exploited in order to continue the game; referees did not marked the end of the game).
It is clear that the Hungarian team refused to continue the game and it was the only reason for the match interruption. In our opinion the Delegate fabricated this interruption in order to blame BIH Handball Federation for it and for all possible consequences. The way in which the Delegate interrupted the match was ridiculous and unprecedented and it was horrible that he lied about being hit with a mobile phone in the head while addressing the audience in the sportshall. Mr. Ericsson, IT IS ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE, IT IS A LIE!!!
We would also like to inform you about facts and figures concerning technical organisation of the match, what the Delegate Ericsson, referee pair Leifsson/Palsson as well as the Hungarian team were informed about before the game started. Namely, in compliance with BIH Police regulations, any international sport match must be secured by four levels of security:
- guards – sportshall security (present in the match in yellow vests – 60 persons)
- Gama Security Agency (in the match – 130 persons)
- Police officers (100 persons)
- Special Police Forces (30 persons)
With this kind of security, there was no chance that any of the game participants could have been in jeopardy at the play field. We would like to repeat once again that EHF Officials (Delegate and Referees) as well as Hungarian Team representatives were informed, at the technical meeting held on Saturday at 11 a.m., about the number of persons securing the game.
Due to everything said above, it is absolutely clear that there was no reason for such decision of the Delegate to interrupt the game and because of this it is our request to annul the decision on the game interruption, in compliance with the competition rules and previous EHF practice. We ask this interrupted game BIH vs. HUN to be registered with the official result 10:0 in favour of BIH or to make a decision to play a new game as well as to sanction the Delegate of the match, Mr. Ericsson, due to his failures and biased decisions to interrupt the game.
As far as we are informed, in the previous EHF practice, there has never been a similar situation of interrupting the game due to throwing papers and few lighters to the play field. It is known to you, as well as to us, that during a great number of matches within EHF tournaments various types of objects have been thrown to the play field and no one has ever interrupted any game because of paper and lighters, and especially it has never been a case to have a delegate announce game interruption in the way Mr. Ericsson did it. Let us give an example of the play-off game Serbia vs. Czech Republic, which took place on June 14th 2008 in Niš, Serbia, during which objects were thrown to the play field, as well, and off course, no one came to an idea to interrupt the game. In all this, we hope that the sequence of events in Sarajevo and game interruption with n
o serious reason has not been a part of someone’s scenario or previous arrangement. In previous years, BIH Handball Federation, being a regular member of EHF, experienced a lot of referee’s injustice and assaults (e.g. Greece vs. BiH in Kilkis, Greece) and so far we have accepted EHF decisions correctly, although such decisions have been unfavourable for our Federation. After the most recent event and a scandalous game interruption, we ask and request from EHF to discuss the facts impartially concerning the subject game, what was shown in the video recording enclosed hereto. We hope that EHF will make a fair and just decision in this case despite of various kinds of influence and lobbying.
Regardless of your decision, BIH Handball Federation is going to forward the text of this complaint as well as the video recording of the game, including other video material, to all members of EHF, IHF, IOC as well as all other relevant factors in Europe and worldwide in order to check out whether we are right and to ensure that such kind farce in the manner of game interruption would never again happen to anyone.
A few more words about the referee pair Leifsson/Palsson, we do not want to interfere in their free professional belief and their decision-making, but in our opinion they are not up to this level of competition. We would like to use this opportunity to draw your attention to arrogant behaviour and underestimation by the referee pair Leifsson/Palsson expressed toward the staff of BIH Handball Federation, who were instructed by the BIH Handball Federation to act as their hosts during their stay in Sarajevo. Their arrogance and underestimating of 8,000 people in the sportshall, of BIH players and team managers is unprecedented. We think enough has been said about the Delegate Ericsson.
We hope that we have managed to convince you, by this brief letter, that Mr. Ericsson’s decision is illegal, non-fair-play and scandalous. The fundamental sport motto – Let the better win! – has been ignored by the Delegate. The attitude of the Hungarian team not wanting to continue the game has disappointed us.
Smajo Karaèiæ, Secretary general