Handball is a team sport in which two teams of seven players each pass a ball with their hands intending to throw it into the opposing team’s goal. A standard match consists of two 30-minute halves, with the team scoring the most goals winning. But did you know that in 2004, a controversial event occurred in a German tournament?
A phony Sri Lankan national handball team tricked its way into a German tournament in 2004, lost all of its games, and then mysteriously vanished. In a farewell letter, the Bavarians were thanked for their hospitality.
The History of Handball Game
Handball is one of the oldest ball games, dating back to the Roman baths. It was the progenitor of contemporary jai alai, which was later played as a bare-handed game called pelota in Spain and France. Handball was modified and called fives in the British Isles around the 16th century.
Handball was invented in Ireland some 1,000 years ago, and it was the immediate ancestor of the present game. In the 1850s, Irish town and county championships were held on courts measuring 80 feet long and 40 feet broad, using a hard leather-covered ball. In the 1880s, Irish immigration brought the game to America, and Phil Casey erected the first American walled court in Brooklyn, New York, in 1886. Kicking was allowed, and some players were adept at returning low balls with their feet.
In 1887, the Irish champion, John Lawlor, faced the American champion, Casey, in the first international match. Casey won by an 11-game margin and defended his title against all challengers until his retirement in 1900.
Handball is currently popular in the United States, Canada, Ireland, Mexico, Argentina, Australia, New Zealand, and France. Invitational events hosted by Canada and the United States have recently boosted international competition. (Source: Britannica)
How Exactly did the Sri Lankan Disappear?
Many of the Sri Lankans reportedly didn’t know the game’s rules and struggled to catch the ball. Bavarian players commented that the team was horrible after the game.
After the Bavarian hosts waited in vain for their Sri Lankan guests for breakfast the next day, the reasons for the poor performance became clear. Previously, the Bavarians assumed the visitors had become disoriented while out for a jog in the woods.
However, a visit to their rooms revealed that the 16 alleged top Sri Lankan handball players and their eight trainers had other plans. The group had fled. Only a couple of sports kits, shoes, and sweaty T-shirts were found. In a farewell letter, the Bavarians were thanked for their hospitality.
More light has now been shed on the mysterious disappearance of the team. A taxi driver in Wittislingen told Bavarian police that he and two other taxis were directed to take the Sri Lankans to Munich’s central railway station. (Source: DW Akadamie)