Kosovo were added as one of seven new member of the IHF at the body's Congress in Sochi ©IHF

Kosovo is among seven new members of the International Handball Federation (IHF) to have been confirmed at the body's Ordinary Congress in Sochi, along with American Samoa, Equatorial Guinea, Nauru, Palau, South Sudan and Tonga. 

Representatives of all the new members apart from Palau and Equatorial Guinea were in attendance in the Russian coastal resort, being presented with flags and certificates by IHF President Hassan Moustafa. 

This represents another positive step for Kosovo, the Balkan Republic recognised by the IOC last December, with footballing bodies FIFA and UEFA now considered the only Federations in which full membership has been sought but not yet secured.

In total, 139 Federations were present at the meeting, as well as Russian officials including Deputy Sports Minister Pavel Kolobkov, Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov and President of the Handball Federation of Russia, Sergey Shishkarev. 

Also on the agenda was a full report by Moustafa, who hailed the success of recent major events, including January's World Championships in Doha.

Other innovations, including the first presentation of Molten’s resin-free ball and the new IHF Education Centre were also explained, a project billed as a global, interactive online learning platform for the worldwide education of coaches, referees, players, teachers and delegates.

Developments in beach handball, including the inclusion of the sport at the Buenos Aires 2018 Youth Olympic Games, were praised. 

Also discussed were new competitions such as the IHF Emerging Nations Tournament and the IHF Trophy, while a contract was also signed during the Congress between the IHF and Shanghai University to create a handball academy designed to target development in China.

The new resin-free ball showcased at the IHF Congress in Sochi, which is being developed following a request for a more adhesive ball last year ©IHF
The new resin-free ball showcased at the IHF Congress in Sochi, which is being developed following a request for a more adhesive ball last year ©IHF

Following the allocation of the next two editions of the Men's World Championships to Egypt in 2021 and to Poland and Sweden in 2023 ahead of the Congress, Poland was also awarded hosting rights for the 2018 IHF Women’s Youth World Championship, while Hungary will stage the 2018 IHF Women’s Junior World Championship.

The 2019 IHF Men’s Youth World Championship will take place in Macedonia, while Spain will host that year's IHF Men’s Junior World Championships.

Sydney was also awarded the 2017 IHF Congress. 

The meeting was followed by an Extraordinary Congress where 22 motions submitted by the IHF Council and members were discussed.

All of those proposed by the IHF were passed with a majority, including the motion for the Council and Executive Committee to have the right to make motions to Continental Federations, and for players to be registered with a maximum of three clubs per season.

A Norwegian proposal for the IHF to present all Member Federations with a written report of their activities for the period preceding each Congress one month prior to the event was approved, but an Icelandic proposal to remove the right of the Council to dismiss a team qualified for an IHF World Championship was rejected.

Three ideas put forward by the Egyptian Handball Federation were also rejected, relating to player release, suspensions, and contracts.

“In the name of all of you, I give our gratitude to Russian Handball, you organised an excellent Congress,” said Moustafa afterwards.

“If we work all together in the same direction handball will be number one.

"Thank you so much, good luck and we will be in touch."

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November 2015:
Egypt awarded 2021 World Men's Handball Championships as Poland and Sweden secure 2023 event
June 2015: Sochi to host International Handball Federation Congress in November following Budapest postponement
February 2015: Nine nations bid for 2021 and 2023 Handball World Championships
October 2014: Exclusive: Kosovo Olympic Committee chief hails European Handball Federation decision to grant full membership
October 2013: Moustafa re-elected International Handball Federation President with 90 per cent of vote