Hanning supports IHF and praises France

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Hanning supports IHF and praises France

January 26, 2017

Bob Hanning, vice-president of the German handball federation, is a wise man.  He’s doing everything he can to help handball in the world’s biggest market, but he’s also keen to get the best result for his club, Füchse Berlin, where he holds the position of general manager.  In recent years he has become one of the mightiest man in the business of handball.  He also played his part in the recent broadcasting deal between beIN Sports and DKB, a German online bank.  The bank streamed all German games of the World Cup in France on its website – 51 matches overall.

Last week the IHF president Hassan Moustafa held a press conference in Rouen regarding the broadcasting deal the federation had signed with beIN Sports back in 2013.  Some of his remarks caused a surprising reaction by media representatives.  Were you surprised as well?

BH: No, not at all, because I think it’s quite normal that you start to defend yourself with facts when you’re attacked all the time.

Nonetheless we can’t ignore that the negotiations between the German public TV-channels like ARD and ZDF, or the pay-TV channel Sky, didn’t go smoothly.  Why?

BH: First of all you have to take a look at the overall situation.  What did the IHF do?  The IHF agreed to an offer that was far superior to any of the other ones.  Everyone of us would have taken it.  And everyone of us would have been blamed if rejecting such offer. Except for us in Germany, no other countries have a problem.  Handball can be watched everywhere else.  So we can’t live in our German bubble.  Obviously it’s a tough situation for us at the German handball federation.  It’s quite disappointing and sad.  We are very grateful that DKB was able to help us.  But sure, it’s nothing we are happy about, in general.

Can you understand the point of ARD and ZDF who don’t want to encrypt their program, therefore allowing an audience outside Germany to watch their channels?

BH: I think that you can find solutions.  But you don’t find solutions accusing each other.  I can totally understand the reaction of the IHF regarding German media reports.  We need internal solutions.  It would be a shame if chancellor Angela Merkel is right in her claim that Germany missed out on the digital era and that it is the only country not able to encrypt video signals.

We shouldn’t forget that it costs a lot of money to do so.  In the meantime the deal led to the German public missing out on a World championship in their own country – the Women’s World championship is to be held in Germany, in December.  While women’s handball is not as big as men’s handball, especially in Germany, it’s a shame anyway.

BH: I hope that we will find a solution, but I can’t make any promises, because the German handball federation is not sitting in the driver’s seat.  We’re a political punching ball, if you want to call it that way.

Why does handball need to be involved in so much politics all the time?

BH: That’s something I ask myself as well.

Then let’s move on to the next topic – there will be another World championship in Germany, the men’s edition, in 2019.  We’re currently here in France.  What did you learn from the French organization?

BH: There’s a lot of hospitality, people are working together, little things are improving day by day.  The security system works very well.  There’s a lot of police around, but they are working silently.  The French know how to organize a handball event.  It should be a motivation for us to host a family event as well.  It’s interesting to see how they empty all arenas after every single game to allow a new crowd to get in.  We have a lot of people here monitoring what might be good ideas for us as well.

Lately there have been plenty of discussions regarding the home venue for the German team in 2019. In 2007, Cologne made the World championship unforgettable.  But we also know you’re based in Berlin.  How much of an alternative does Berlin represent?

BH: First of all I think that handball should be available to all of us.  The team won’t be playing in just one venue, all the time. And just like the French did, we don’t want to have too many venues.  We don’t want to cause too much travelling, because our goal is to win the tournament.  I’m very confident that we will have a balanced schedule.  But we have to go where handball is already established and where we can reach a lot of people.

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