The International Fistball Association has paid tribute to Honorary President Ernesto Dohnalek after he died at the age of 70 ©IFA

The International Fistball Association (IFA) has paid tribute to Honorary President Ernesto Dohnalek, who has died at the age of 70.

Dohnalek served as President of the IFA for 16 years from 1995 to 2011, and during his tenure the governing body changed name from the International Faustballverband to its current title.

Dohnalek’s 16-year tenure is the second longest as President of the governing body of fistball, only surpassed by the 22 years the federation was led by its founding President Erich Petschnek.

After standing down as President, Dohnalek was named an Honorary President of the IFA for his contribution to the sport.

Among the significant developments in the sport during Dohnalek’s time as President were the introduction of World Championships at under-18 level for boys and girls and a change of rules to make the length of a set up to 11 points.

The IFA said that when Dohnalek had reflected on his tenure as Presidency he had picked out the 2005 World Games in Duisburg, the 2009 World Games in Taiwan, the 2007 World Championships in Oldenburg and the establishment of U18 World Championships as highlights of his reign.

"Ernesto had a real passion for the sport of fistball and dedicated many years to the development of our sport," said IFA Honorary President Karl Weiss.

"Under his leadership, broader changes to the sport of fistball were enacted."

IFA President Jörn Verleger added: "Although he was already in poor health, I am happy that we could still welcome Ernesto in the last years together with his wife Andrea at the World Games 2017 in Wroclaw and the World Championships 2019 in Winterthur.

"Those were very emotional moments for all of us. Ernesto will be dearly missed."

Men’s fistball has featured on The World Games programme since 1985 and International World Games Association President José Perurena also paid tribute to Dohnalek.

"We have lost someone who has been a close friend for many years," said Perurena.

"His commitment to our multi-sport event was exemplary. At the same time, he won many friends with his open and down-to-earth nature.

"This cheerful nature made Ernesto an outstanding and influential ambassador for his sport as well.

"In our thoughts, we are with Ernesto’s wife Andrea and their children.

"The World Games family will always remember him as one of the strongest supporters of our event.

"Our farewell words are simply expressed ‘thank you, Ernesto’”.