The beautiful facade unit is gone. After twenty years of prosperity on the international scene, French handball is not yet in the palace revolution, but is going through a turbulent period when it comes to electing a new president at the head of the federation (FFHB), Saturday 28 November.
Joël Delplanque, the current president (74 years old), has decided to hand over after three terms of four years. To succeed him, three men: Philippe Bana (63), former national technical director (DTN) for more than twenty years; Jean-Pierre Feuillan (63 years old), vice-president of the FFHB; and Olivier Girault (47), former international (1997-2008) and former president of the National Handball League (2018-2020).
The three men agree: the house is still beautiful, the foundations are solid (62 employees, 30 million euros of budget), even if a few cracks have appeared after the fiascos of the World Cup 2019 for women and Euro 2020 at men’s. Not enough to weaken the “federation”, which can boast of one of the finest achievements in French sport (13 gold medals won in international competitions between 2001 and 2018).
But the election campaign saw the handball family tear apart. The accusations of racism formulated about a dedication written by the former coach Claude Onesta for the attention of his successor Didier Dinart (when his book was released The reign of the freed in 2014) reminded us.
Olivier Girault, the only one of the three candidates not to be accountable for the balance sheet of the federation and the teams of France, tried, during the campaign, to invalidate the candidacy of Philippe Bana: the latter would have kept his position too long of DTN after the announcement of his candidacy, in the fall of 2019. “Non-stop ineligibility attacks”, today defends the person concerned.
“The last twenty years have left traces, there are two irreconcilable clans among the management team” Olivier Girault, candidate for the presidency of the FFHB
Jean-Pierre Feuillan denounces, for his part, “The clan functioning set up by Philippe Bana” and compare the DTN to a “State within the State within the federation”. “Debating is good, be careful of demagoguery and not to fall into the wrestling ring. The game of small media attacks is not that of handball ”, replied the Marseillais, not spared by his two rivals during the debate between the candidates, organized on November 20 by the federation and broadcast on the Internet.
For Olivier Girault, “The last twenty years have left their mark, there are two irreconcilable clans among the management team, it proves that Philippe [Bana] and Jean-Pierre [Feuillan] are not able to bring together French handball ”.
On the form, the exchanges are tense, the wounds hidden by past successes have reopened during the campaign. Basically, the programs of the candidates sometimes overlap. As on the crisis linked to Covid-19.
Three-man priority: breaking the economic deadlock caused by the pandemic (during which the number of dismissals fell by 15%, as reported The world early November) and ensure the resumption, in good financial and health conditions, of activity in the clubs.
At the head of the “La Relance” list, Olivier Girault wishes to breathe new life into the federation, “After twenty years of inaction”. Supported by former internationals Jackson Richardson and Grégory Anquetil, the former captain of the Blues (Olympic, world and European champion) wants to put the federation “At the service of licensees, associations and clubs” and focus on promoting female practice. “There is only one handball, that of the champions as that of the terroirs ”, he adds.
“We must play collectively”
Jean-Pierre Feuillan plans to give “A new impetus for French handball”, as the name of its list suggests. The elected federal, who has in his ranks half of the team of Joël Delplanque and – especially – the coach of Montpellier Patrice Canayer, a heavyweight of French handball, defends the idea of a “Decentralized governance”, which would make it possible to pool skills and resources between clubs and federation.
For his part, Philippe Bana (“Handball 2024”) promises to “Change the practices of a federation that has moved away from its base”. “We must play collectively”, pass “From the pyramid to the transverse” in decision-making, he argues. Co-responsible for the – many – successes as well as some failures of the Bleu (e) s for twenty years, the former DTN at the southern ease can rely on the support of double Olympic champions Jérôme Fernandez and Bertrand Gille, as well as on that by Nodjialem Myaro, president of the Women’s Handball League.
He also secured the support of many presidents of regional leagues, such as those of Ile-de-France and Brittany, among the most important in France, which have an electoral weight proportional to their number of licensees. Jean-Pierre Feuillan claims the support of the New Aquitaine and Grand-Est leagues, other strongholds of the national hand.
Then, as for the American elections, each one counts the “large voters” in his favor. The network that Bana has woven for more than twenty years could weigh in the balance. Unless the aspiration for renewal, which has already gripped the fencing, motorcycling and more recently judo federations, does not in turn affect French handball. Answer Saturday, November 28. One thing is certain: the FFHB will have a new face at its head.
A senior executive targeted for “sexual assault”
The French Handball Federation (FFHB) believed that until then it had been relatively spared from the scandals of sexual violence that hit ice sports and judo. But, according to The Lorraine Republican of October 22, the president of the Grand-Est league, Thierry Klipfel, is the target of two complaints for ” bullying “ and “Sexual assault”, pushing the latter to resign from his post, only eight days after his re-election. This questioning of a federal framework of French handball comes forty-eight hours after the presentation, on October 20, by the FFHB, of a plan to prevent violence for “Strengthen its mechanism for preventing deviance, especially sexual deviance, and protecting the integrity of practitioners”.