Ramon Gallego responds to the IHF

Hassan Moustafa och Ramon Gallego. Foto: Bildbyrån & IHF

After Ramon Gallego decided to call it quits with the IHF in protest to IHF president Hassan Moustafa the IHF has responded with a statement on their website. Handbollskanalen has been in contact with Ramon Gallego who responds to parts of IHF:s statement.

You all probably know the story by now. Ramon Gallego, a well respected chairman of IHF:s Playing Rules and Refereeing Commission, quit his job in protest to Hassan Moustafa and the IHF presidents involvement in Gallegos work.

Gallego took offense to the fact that Moustafa after Swedens win against Egypt in January wanted to, without having any rules to support him, stop referees from officiating games where teams from the same region played. Moustafa wanted, for example, to stop Norwegian referees from being able to officiate Swedens games.

IHF has now come out with a statement that comments on Gallegos initial statement. One of the things that IHF writes is that the reason why they want to stop Norwegian referees from officiating Swedens games (as an example) is that they want to protect the referees from criticism relating to mistakes that can be perceived as biased.

IHF also writes that they have pointed out to Gallego several times that he is now allowed to appoint referees from the same region but that he has ignored these comments. They write that the appointment of Norwegian referees for the game between Sweden and Egypt was highly criticized by the public as well as the media.

IHF:s statement in full is available here.

Answer to IHF Statement resignation PRC Chairman_final

Handbollskanalen has been in contact with Ramon Gallego who says that he would like to respond the IHF this one time. After that he would like to put this whole story behind him so that the referees can focus on the 2021 Olympics in Tokyo.

Here are some of the parts that Ramon Gallego has chosen to comment on:

IHF writes:

”In his capacity as Chairman of the Executive Committee, IHF President Dr Hassan Moustafa informed and advised the PRC Chairman on several occasions not to engage referee couples from the same regions to officiate matches of the teams concerned, aiming not only to guarantee neutrality (despite the IHF’s trust in the neutrality of all IHF referees), but also to avoid any criticism, complaints or arguments for the referees and/or the IHF”.

Ramon Gallegos response:

– IHF is confirming the criteria that I wrote as unacceptable in my letter, that makes that any kind non-sporting criteria can influence in nominations. The affirmation that the IHF trust the neutrality of all IHF referees is contradictory with the other statement that there will be additional limitations for nominations. These additional limitation in only giving the message that the referees could be not neutral in all cases.

Moreover, the concept “region” doesn’t exist in the IHF Regulations. Accepting this criterion would be the recognition that the IHF referees are not neutral and whistle in favor of the team with their same region. We could say the same for the criteria of language. The language of the teams vs the native language of the referees can’t never be an excluding reason for a nomination. Would be also the language of the coaches, players, team officials etc. another reason for this exclusion? The common sense says no.

The IHF referees are honest and independent, they are only judges and nobody can put it in doubt. They should be allowed to whistle any kind of matches/teams except when his own national team is playing. In the Men’s World Championship EGY2021 there were no spectators, just the IHF guests and some voluntaries, then no sense to speak about the high critics of the public.

I believe that the complaint of the President of a national federation cannot be the reason to challenge the referee’s honesty. This door should be closed forever. If the IHF President considers the complaint from a related party of a match, is putting in danger the overall concept of referee’s integrity. Under that criteria every team losing a match would have an opportunity to influence in future referee’s nominations.

In the same WCh EGY2021, there were more “regional nominations” or for referees with the same language of any of the teams, i.e. couples from Europe, America, Africa and Asia were refereeing matches for the same “region”, and nobody made any complaint. Nobody doubted the referee’s performances. It looks like that the only relevant match was SWE-EGY.

IHF writes: 

”In the finals of major IHF events, the PRC Chairman used to consult with the COC Chairman on the nomination of the referees. However, at the 2021 IHF Men’s World Championship in Egypt, the PRC Chairman decided, without any consultation, to appoint the Spanish referee couple to officiate the final match”.

Ramon Gallegos response:

– In the 1st paragraph of the IHF statement, it is written that the PRC Chairman is free to appoint the referee couples for the respective matches of the IHF events concerned.

This statement regarding the COC Chairman is a bit odd, because he was not present at the World Ch EGY2021, because he was sick at home. Despite this fact, he was nominating the IHF Technical Delegates from home every day, and the referee’s nominations were shared also daily with him in the same document, to be sent together to the IHF Office staff for publication. This happened every day, including the nomination for the final day. Then this IHF statement is totally false. Since the day of the match SWE-EGY I informed every day to the President of the nominations, including the final weekend.

For the final day the two couples from CRO and ESP were pre-nominated for the gold and bronze matches, and the final decision would be depending on the teams concerned due to ESP was one of the teams qualified for semifinals.

IHF writes:

”Additionally, the PRC Chairman created a constant conflict with the European Handball Federation (EHF), which forced both IHF and EHF to convene mutual meetings to resolve the issues through mediation by their Presidents. Due to the PRC Chairman’s differences with IHF PRC Member Dragan Nachevski, the PRC Chairman did not consider top-level IHF referee Gjorgji Nachevski (Dragan Nachevski’s son) in his initial referee nominations for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Afterwards, the PRC Chairman apologized for his inappropriate behavior and nominated Gjorgji Nachevski for the mentioned event”.

Ramon Gallegos response:

– The statement of this paragraph is false. I never created any conflict between the IHF and the EHF. My relationship with different counterparties in the EHF has been always excellent. The cooperation with the PRC member Dragan Nachevski is correct, we have worked together in so many IHF events in a very positive way. We may have some discrepancies in few aspects, like we may have with other PRC members, but nothing critical than can affect on the delivery of our work.

In December-2019 in Kumamoto the President asked for the nominations for the OQT and the OOGG-2020, I ask him to wait until the Men’s Euro in January-2020 to assess the performances of the referees, but his order was to deliver the list immediately. I gave him my proposal and I explained that the couples included in the list were mainly based in the referee’s ranking after the Men’s WCh 2019. The IHF President approved the proposal where the couple Nachevski- Nikolov was not included.

In the Men’s Euro 2020 the couple Nachevski-Nikolov made a good performance and whistled the final match. In February 2020 during the Council meeting in Cairo, both IHF and EHF Presidents asked me about this couple, I explained them the reason for their initial not nomination for the Olympic Games Qualifications Tournaments, but because of their good performance in the Euro, they would be added to the long list of possible nominees for Tokyo. Finally both competition the OGQT OOGG were postponed to 2021.

I never apologize for any unproper behavior, because this never happened and I didn’t have to apologize for anything.