World federation orders new qualifiers; Asian group denies match-fixing

Updated: January 25, 2008, 12:04 PM ET
Associated Press

TOKYO -- Japan will host handball Olympic qualifiers next week under the threat of punishment from its Asian federation, as regional divisions deepen over a match-fixing controversy.

The Olympic qualifiers were initially held in September last year, when referees from Jordan and Iran were brought in at the last minute by the Asian Handball Federation to replace German referees.

The disputed calls by the Jordan and Iran referees helped Kuwait win the men's tournament and Kazakhstan the women's, qualifying them for August's Olympics in Beijing.

In December, the International Handball Federation ordered replays of the qualifiers. Those matches are scheduled for Jan. 29 and Jan. 30 in Tokyo. Only Japan and South Korea have agreed to take part.

The AHF, headed by Kuwaiti prince Sheikh Ahmed Al-Fahad Al-Sabah, has denied match-fixing and threatened to punish countries taking part in the replays.

The AHF has filed a petition against the rematches with the Lausanne-based Court of Arbitration for Sport and will hold an emergency meeting in Kuwait on Sunday to discuss the dispute.

The IHF, in a recent letter to the Asian federation, declared it is the "only body endorsing the results of the continental qualifying tournaments for Olympic Games and World Championships."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press