November 07, 2014

BASEL, Switzerland (AP) Bahrain pulled out of the 2015 men's World Handball Championships in Qatar on Friday amid tense political relations between the Gulf neighbors.

The International Handball Federation said in a statement that Bahrain officials told the governing body the team was withdrawing from the 24-nation event, which starts Jan. 15.

The IHF gave no reason for Bahrain's decision. Bahrain qualified for the championships nine months ago.

Bahrain and Qatar have had rocky diplomatic relations this year.

In March, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates recalled their ambassadors from Doha to protest apparent Qatari support for Islamist groups across the region.

The UAE has also qualified for the handball worlds.

Requests for comment were not immediately returned by the Switzerland-based IHF.

The IHF could discipline the Bahraini handball federation.

''The issue will be dealt with by the council of the International Handball Federation in its next meeting'' on Nov. 21, the governing body said, adding that ''a corresponding decision regarding this matter will be made and announced.''

The council panel is chaired by IHF president Hassan Moustafa of Egypt.

Bahrain was in a 6-team group with Argentina, Denmark, Germany, Poland and Russia.

The UAE is in a group with Algeria, Czech Republic, Egypt, France and Sweden.

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