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Date: 1/10/2017

For the third time, France will hold an IHF Men's World Championship as the 25th IHF Men’s World Championship is imminent.

IHF.info, looks more in-depth at the comments from IHF President, Dr. Hassan Moustafa and IHF Competitions Director, Patric Strub as they addressed the world’s media at the official opening press conference which took place at the spectacular ‘Institut du Monde Arabe’.

For an overview of the opening press conference, click HERE.

IHF President – Dr. Hassan Moustafa

This championship will be a landmark event in the history of handball - we expect it to be the best-ever world championship. We’re are very happy to be here in France - a leading country for our sport, not only in Europe, but worldwide.

We are working together, very closely, and we’re very satisfied - we are working very hard to promote our sport.

About this country, France, we can say this has been the best federation over the past 15 years worldwide in terms of results – the biggest federation is Germany in terms of players, but the best results are of France, under the leadership of different presidents.

We are very happy to give France this tournament to organise – it has been a marathon of more than five years working together; meetings, discussions and finally, we are at the end – tomorrow, with the opening ceremony.

It’s a special challenge after the Olympic Games in Rio where our sport was the second-most popular sport with spectators after football, but ahead of basketball, swimming and volleyball.

This means that we are expecting France 2017 to be the best world championship and I know the people here in France are very creative and they have already shown their vision and worked very hard - I want to give my gratitude and thanks to the French Handball Federation and organising committee.

Handball is not anymore just a European sport. Now we have very strong countries coming from outside of Europe; from Africa, Asia and Pan America. It was not like before when one team from Europe playing a team from outside of Europe there would be a 20,25-goal gap, it is not like this now.

We are very proud and happy to say handball is a worldwide sport and we are working with the European Handball Federation and French Handball Federation to continue to develop the game globally.

I have asked France to continue with everything around handball after this tournament and have asked them to write a report after the tournament to show us their plan for the future.

IHF Director of Competitions – Patric Strub

On the fact that teams will only play consecutive games once:

We have reduced the pressure on the teams and therefore the risk of injuries and give more time to the players to relax and recover so in the end in the decisive matches we will see the best performances from the teams.

On the IHF investment in the players, clubs and federations:

Following the decisions by the IHF Council and IHF Executive Committee, we are having a big re-investment into the teams, federations and players with an insurance against the loss of salary – if a player gets injured at France 2017 the IHF will take over the salary of the players’ club so the clubs who are sending the players to the event are not losing any money.

We are also taking over the travel for all the teams who are coming to France for the world championship and we are paying a qualification bonus in total of CHF 600,000 (Swiss Francs), but the biggest financial investment is the compensation fee we are paying to the clubs. We are paying a total of 1.1 million Swiss Francs (CHF 1,100,000) to the clubs for releasing the players, so the IHF is giving a big part of the income back to the clubs and to the stakeholders of the world championship.

On the referees at France 2017:

The referees are the 25th team of this world championship – they are our team. We have 16 referee couples from four different continents. Nine of the couples here went through our Global Referee Training Programme, which was introduced in 2005. This time we have changed the qualification process for becoming an IHF referee – they must first gain the continental status and then they go through intensive training on an IHF level in order to gain the IHF status.

The maximum age to be part of the Global Referee Training Programme is 32-years-old, and compared to the past tournaments, the average age of the referees now is very much reduced.

We have very young referees here like the couple from Switzerland who are only 25-years-old, but we also have very experienced referees like the couples from Denmark, Germany and Macedonia who have already participated at two Olympic Games, so we have a good mixture of newcomers as well as experienced.

On the inclusion of the Charlotte and Julie Bonaventura – the first female referees to officiate at an IHF Men’s World Championship:

It is also very special, and something not normal for the IHF, but we have two couples from the host nation and for the first time in history of the men’s world championship we have a female couple nominated for a men’s event. It is very special for us and we are very proud of this.

On the technology available to referees at France 2017:

Following the earlier experience at the 2015 IHF Men’s World Championship in Qatar and at the 2015 IHF Women’s World Championship in Denmark we have again the video proof system, we have enhanced it to nine different situations where the referees or the IHF official can ask for the video of referee help.

With the rule changes we had last July, we think this is very good that modern technology can help the referees.