Germany earns ‘wild card’ spot for Qatar 2015

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Germany has been granted a spot for the 24th Men’s Handball World Championship, the International Handball Federation announced on Tuesday (8).

The sport’s international federation made the decision during an IHF Council meeting in Zagreb, Croatia, in order to fill a void left by the absence of a team from Oceania.

“There is currently no Continental Confederation in Oceania recognised by the International Handball Federation,” a statement on the IHF federation website reads. “Hence, the IHF Council decided to allocate the spot reserved for this continent to another National Federation on the principle of a wild card.”

“The criterion taken into consideration when awarding was the ranking on the previous World Championship. The Council decided to award this place to the best-ranked team on the 2013 World Championship in Spain that has not obtained the right to participate through the continental qualifications, which is the national team of Germany. Germany ranked 5th in Spain in 2013.“

Germany was facing their first absence from a World Championship since 1997 after losing their play-off qualification matches last month to Poland by narrow 24:25 and 28:29 decisions.  As a consequence, head coach Martin Heuberger’s contract was not renewed. In 2013, the German squad, who took the world title in 2007, failed to qualify for the 2014 European Championship in Denmark and also missed the 2012 Olympic Games.

The unexpected decision caught Bernhard Bauer, the President of the German Handball Federation, by complete surprise.

“Now we have to prove in Doha that we deserve to be part of this World Championship,” Bauer said. “The fifth place from Spain was worth gold for us now.”

Today’s decision completed the field of participants for the 2015 World Championship which will be contested in Doha from 15 January to 1 February. The teams are:

Qatar, Spain, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Bahrain, Iran, United Arab Emirates, Algeria, Tunisia, Egypt, France, Denmark, Croatia, Poland, Belarus, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovenia, Russia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, FYR Macedonia, Sweden and Germany.

The draw event for the Championship will be held on 20 July at the Ritz Carlton Hotel in Doha, beginning at 21:30. The draw for the preliminary round groups will be conducted by Leon Kalin, Chairman of the IHF Commission for Organising and Competition.