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An Open Letter to the International Handball Federation

Updated: Nov 13, 2020

6th July 2020

Hassan Moustafa


International Handball Federation

Peter Merian-Strasse, Basel, Switzerland

An Open Letter to the International Handball Federation

Dear Mr Moustafa,

Re: The Egyptian Handball Federation and Female Representation

We write to express our serious concerns about the governance of handball in Egypt, an International Handball Federation (IHF) member and future hosts of the World Handball Championships in 2021.

We’re confident that the IHF will be aware of the ongoing campaign by female handball players to establish a womens national handball team in Egypt which has been rejected out-of-hand by the Egyptian Handball Federation; a decision that jeopardises the commitments of the EHF and the IHF to equality, non-discrimination and promoting fairness.

Lama Elshawarby, an Egyptian handball age-group player outlined the response from the Egyptian national governing body as:

“Their [Egyptian Handball Federation] response to us wanting to create a women’s national handball first team was that because of our Middle Eastern culture, the girls eventually get engaged or married and stop playing the sport.”

As an organisation that exists to advance equality, diversity and equal opportunity in global sport, we are also gravely concerned by the alleged mistreatment of female players due to lax / non-existent governance over contracts within the domestic womens game in Egypt.

The demands made by this cohort of passionate and committed handball players, who have enjoyed significant success on a world stage throughout the age-group system, are reasonable and fair. They deserve constructive engagement from their governing body and their concerns addressed in an appropriate manner.

To be able to represent your country in your sport, among the best in the world, is the greatest honour an athlete can dream of in their career. The opportunity to do so should not be determined by gender.

We urge the International Handball Federation to immediately disclose how they are engaging with the Egyptian Handball Federation (EHF) on this matter. We also request the immediate disclosure of how the EHF was deemed to be in compliance with Article 4 of the IHF Statute on discrimination when it was awarded the IHF flagship event; the World Handball Championship for 2021?

Article 4 of the IHF Statutes state that:

“The IHF tolerates no discrimination of any kind … on the grounds of racial origin, gender, language, or politics. Organisers of official IHF events [including competitions] shall be compelled to make a declaration to that effect before the IHF allocates the event.”

We request a response to this letter, and assurances that the IHF will take action to ensure the EHF is acting to further the best interests of its athletes, male and female, as soon as possible.


Tim Harper

Chief Executive on behalf of equitysport


We stand with Lama Elshawarby and her teammates to campaign for:

1. The establishment of a national womens handball first team in Egypt.

2. The registration and regulation of contracts by the Egyptian Handball Federation for female handball players in Egypt.

Find out more about the campaign HERE.

If you would like to support the campaign - please SHARE this open letter across social media, follow us on social media and post your support for Lama online using the hashtags #WeStandWithLama #EhnaElAbtal

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