ehf_25yers_book_webversion

mrjcgoodwin

25 YEARS

EUROPEAN HANDBALL FEDERATION


CONTENT

008

FOREWORDS

022

STRUCTURE

016

PROLOGUE

180

PARTNER

STATEMENTS

054

EUROPEAN

CHAMPIONSHIP

6


118

CLUB

COMPETITIONS

156

DEVELOPMENT

092

YOUTH EUROPEAN

CHAMPIONSHIP

7


FOREWORD

JEAN BRIHAULT

President EHF


The key to the success has been

the combination of long standing

values with modern approaches

“Whoever bears in his heart a cathedral to be built is already victorious” wrote Antoine

de Saint Exupéry in 1938. This could be an apt evocation of those who, in the late 1980s

came together with the idea of founding a European Handball Federation. Because their

ambitions were high, they were bound to succeed. And succeed they did! Far beyond their

wildest expectations.

They had a vision, not a dream. For a dream, as Martin Luther King well knew, is far away

from reality. A vision is an inspiration for action, an ambition which is shared, an abstraction

only waiting to be made concrete.

Action immediately followed the founding Congress held in Berlin in 1991 and over the

past twenty five years initiatives have succeeded one another to make European handball

what it is today. Those old enough (and I am one of them) to remember the various stages

of the development of our sport cannot but feel giddy at the pace of its progress on our

continent.

Our competitions now rank among the very top sport events in Europe, our continental

championships are followed all over the world and our European Cups have become mesmerizing

events with a conclusion, our famous Final Fours, that has been compared to what

is best in American sport.

The key to this success has been the combination of long standing values with modern

approaches, of shared confidence with permanent self-criticism, of democracy with efficiency.

There is no doubt that the next twenty-five years will witness the further progress of European

handball in a world context also characterised by the supersonic growth of our sport

on all continents. May the present book be an inspiration to the next generations in their

efforts. History, for us, far from being what James Joyce calls “a nightmare from which [one]

is trying to awake”, is a shared treasure of immeasurable value, a guarantee of success for

the future.

9


FOREWORD

MICHAEL WIEDERER

Secretary General


Only those who are

aware of the past can

shape the future…

Twenty-five years are cause for celebration, not only for those persons

who were present in 1991, but for all those who on this journey

walked a few steps of the way with us. The development of a sport

and an institution is not to be measured only in facts and figures, but

rather the positioning on the many various levels that they represent.

But what are 25 years…

…historically, it is but a juncture in time

…in our case, it is ideally a quarter of our lives

…in sport, it is an abundance of victories and defeats,

experiences and partners.

But above all, it is the community of people who are active in and for

the sport.

As someone who had the pleasure to ‘live’ handball with people from

all European nations for the entire duration of this 25 year period,

I have to emphasise that the sport of handball is a ‘people’ business.

Only through the engagement of the many handball enthusiasts can

the matches take place, and this is from the smallest youth handball

competition to the greatest tournament.

Europe wide, the sport of handball is rich with such people and for this

reason handball and the EHF have been able to develop over the past

quarter of a century.

On that note, I wish our sport – both Europe and worldwide – many

active and interested protagonists, and with that in mind – PROGRESS!

11


FOREWORD

DR. HASSAN MOUSTAFA

President IHF


Europe is the cradle of handball

The European Handball Federation plays a key role in showcasing our sport at the highest

level, and contributes considerably to the development of handball in many nations where

it has the most potential for growth. Europe is the cradle of handball with the longest and

strongest history of any continental confederation, and the EHF is therefore considered the

spinal cord of the International Handball Federation.

It was the passionate defenders of handball in Denmark and Sweden that invited the handball

world to participate in the IHF Founding Congress, which was held in Copenhagen,

Denmark in July 1946. Since that moment, exactly 70 years ago, much has changed with

regard to the game itself, the nations so dedicated to it, and even at a club level with the

continued development of the EHF Champions League – undeniably the premier handball

club competition in the world where the best athletes are on court every week. One thing

has remained the same, however: as long as the EHF is healthy, handball is as well.

The development and promotion of handball is based on the effective collaboration between

the IHF and the respective continental confederations, especially the European

Handball Federation, which is an exemplary organisational body consistently showcasing

the very best of our sport. The IHF and EHF work continually together with a focus on

handball in the continent of Europe, periodically organising meetings where all matters

relating to our sport are discussed and any hindrances to the development of handball are

addressed.

Together, we are always working on new ideas to increase the attractiveness of our sport

– particularly for younger people, who are so important as they represent the generations

to come and will be vital in continuing the work done before them. We have made a significant

progress and we are moving in a positive direction, and though there is still a long way

to go, I am confident any challenges will be handled in effective cooperation between our

Federations.

The continuous cooperation between the International Handball Federation and the European

Handball Federation allows the further development of our beloved sport not only in

Europe but all over the world. I personally and on behalf of the IHF look forward to moving

forward together along the same positive path, and congratulate the EHF on 25 years of

success. I hope the next 25 will prove just as fruitful.

13


FOREWORD

ERWIN LANC

Honorary President IHF and ÖHB


The beginnings of the EHF

After the loss of life and property in World War 2, the renaissance of European and international

handball was necessarily in the hands of those states and their handball functionaries

who, having stayed neutral, had survived World War 2 without material damage, among

them names like Hans Baumann, Curt Wadmark, Paul Högberg, Erik Elias, and others.

The political division of Europe that followed prevented what was achieved on all other

continents: the foundation of a continental federation. The East of Europe, strong also in

the sport of handball, was allowed to take part only under the auspices of the IHF. Until the

disintegration of Soviet-ruled Eastern Europe, the very continent that boasted the strongest

performance in handball and, most importantly, the largest number of players, did not

have its own continental federation. Within the IHF, problems kept emerging though that

called for a legitimate representation of Europe. To address this situation, a European advisory

and organising board was created, chaired by the Swede Staffan Holmqvist, which,

while lacking any executive powers did wield some well-respected influence within the IHF.

It was at this point that Michael Wiederer, at the time Secretary General of Österreichischer

Handballbund, started working for European handball.

The founding congress held in Berlin after the fall of the Berlin Wall marked the official start

of the continental federation EHF led by Holmqvist.

Beside the need to draw up statutes governing work and decision-making processes, the

EHF’s seat had to be defined and funding secured. The aim was to locate the Secretariat at a

place in the centre of the united Europe of handball. Bids were submitted by Berlin, Zurich

and Vienna as well as by Lisbon and Bratislava. The funding of the EHF Secretariat caused

the national handball federations some headache. Berlin and Zurich were unable to offer

any start-up capital, Lisbon and Bratislava withdrew their bids.

Michael Wiederer and I succeeding in obtaining commitments from the City of Vienna and

the Republic of Austria to provide initial funding, which in a rule of law state is easier said

than done. In due course, the EHF Congress finally chose Vienna as the seat of the new continental

federation.

Today, the EHF runs the best and most functional Secretariat in international handball

with a staff drawn from a large number of EHF member nations. The FINAL4 tournament

in Cologne is the biggest handball event worldwide. EHF Presidents hailing from Sweden,

Norway and France have always enjoyed the Secretary General’s loyal support in the EHF

bodies. The upcoming decisions to be taken by the EHF will have to be guided by the objective

of continuing the broad, democratic and at the same time efficient development of the

first quarter-century.

15


16


MILESTONE

MADEIRA OR:

THE LONG

ROAD TO

THE EHF

The vision of a European umbrella organisation was first

conceived in 1960. For a long time, sports-political

tensions between the East and the West prevented the

foundation of the EHF – the demise of the Soviet Union

had to happen first. A milestone leading towards the

European idea was the 1990 IHF Congress in Madeira.

17


PROLOGUE

18


The vision of a united handball

Europe was still a long way

off – compared with other

sports, in any case. In football,

the interests of European national

associations have been represented

by the Union of European Football Associations

(UEFA) since 1955. The first continental

tournament took place in 1960.

Track and field athletes had their first European

Championships as early as 1934,

while the European Athletic Association

(EAA) has been operating as an institution

since 1969/70. The European Handball

Federation (EHF) was hence a latecomer

when it was created in Berlin on 17

November 1991.

This late date appears all the more curious

as the idea of a European federation

had already been on the agenda of an

European handball for more than three

decades. It had been the Yugoslav Handball

Federation that had proposed to establish

a European Handball Federation

at the IHF Congress of Liège on 23-24

September 1960. The then IHF Secretary

General Albert Wagner defused this

“bomb”, as the sports magazines called it,

by putting forth the weighty argument that

this would create a “state within a state” of

the International Federation. After all, the

World Championships were nothing but

European title contests anyway, Wagner

reasoned. The background: in 1960, of

the IHF’s 24 members only Japan, Cuba,

Brazil and Argentina were non-European

nations.

Over the years, however, the balance of

powers shifted enormously in the world

federation. By 1972, Europe, with its 24

member federations, only had a very slim

majority left among the 47 IHF members.

In the 1980s, Africa and Asia gained even

more influence. When the IHF Congress

1992 convened in Barcelona, Europe, with

42 out of 129 members, only had a share

of about 30 percent of all votes in the International

Handball Federation. Meanwhile,

the other continents had already set

up their own organisations to look after

their respective interests – Africa in 1973,

Asia in 1976, and Panamerica in 1977.

Calls for a European federation and a

continental tournament hence became

increasingly vociferous. But the numerous

attempts undertaken after the 1974 Congress

in Jesolo, Italy, to bundle European

interests in a European federation all came

to nothing, even though the establishment

of a European continental federation was

in fact the logical answer to the globalisation

of handball, as the Dane Erik Larsen

noted in 1974. He predicted it would be

achieved before the end of the 1970s: “My

tip: the summer of 1979.”

But he erred. In 1976, at the initiative of

the German federation Deutscher Handballbund

(DHB), an informal body was created,

consisting of DHB President Thiele,

Quarez (France), Dimmer (Luxembourg)

and Paulsen (Denmark), to explore potential

options with the federations from the

Eastern bloc. In 1979, even a “Congress”

of West European nations met in Luxembourg.

And in 1981, the same Congress

resolved in Copenhagen to create an EHF

in London in 1982. But a lot of time had

yet to pass.

“Europe needs its own federation” – was

the conclusion of the 1980 Congress held

in Moscow, as reported by the Handballwoche

magazine. How complex the balance

of powers was, was highlighted by

the debate on the politically sensitive issue

of the admission of Palestine to the IHF,

which was finally carried by a coalition of

East European federations, Asia and Africa.

The Asian representatives moreover

almost succeeded in adding Israel to the

Asian continent (which would actually

have meant the end of Israeli handball).

The rest of the world was certainly no

longer willing to recognise the traditional,

leading role of the Europeans based on

their stronger performance. “Against the

backdrop of increasing popularity of handball

in the countries of Asia, Africa and

America, which in Moscow resulted in the

election of IHF Vice Presidents from these

continents to the Council and the Executive,

Europeans will have no choice but to

launch their own federation to better safeguard

their own interests,” was the conclusion

of Handballwoche.

The resolve to found such an organisation

already existed: “In separate deliberations

of the Western nations on the

19


PROLOGUE

20


one hand and of friends of handball in the

socialist countries of Eastern Europe on

the other, the will to take this increasingly

inevitable step has already become quite

clear. As a result of the Moscow IHF Congress,

it will not be long before the first

concrete steps in this direction will be

taken, as the strongest performing handball

nations of the world will not want to

lose control over their own affairs.“

But even in the 1980s Europe was not

yet homogeneous enough to establish an

umbrella federation. The pressure to act,

especially in the IHF‘s socialist member nations,

was not strong enough yet. “At that

time, the East European federations enjoyed

a very strong representation in the

bodies of the IHF, the global federation,”

recalls Karl Güntzel from Switzerland

(photo), who at the time served as Secretary

of the European working group, an

informal predecessor of the EHF. But other

nations also had something to lose. The

breakthrough that had been hoped for

had also been thwarted by Scandinavian

functionaries, who feared that on creation

of a European federation they would be

set to lose key positions in the IHF, as was

explained in a commemorative publication

of the Luxembourg Handball Federation.

Representative bodies hence remained

informal until the end of the 1980s. Both

the West Europeans and the East Europeans

continued the practice of gathering

before IHF Congresses for coordination.

According to Güntzel, the West was represented

by the Swede Staffan Holmqvist,

Berhard Thiele (GER) and himself, the East

by the President of Deutscher Handball

Verband (DHV), Georg Herrmann, Jaroslav

Mraz from Czechoslovakia, and the

Russian Vladimir Kriwtschow. “There were

a number of meetings, but nothing of an

official nature,” Güntzel recalls. It was an

attempt to merge the interests of the two

large political blocs in Europe. But this did

not always prove possible.

floated once again in1985 and in 1987,

recalls the present EHF Secretary General

Michael Wiederer, who as ÖHB delegate

witnessed political developments, their

impact on sports, and the conflicts. It was

only in1989, though, that the vision became

more realistic, as three representatives

each of Western Europe and Eastern

Europe met in France to explore the possibility

of establishing a continental umbrella

organisation.

The actual history of the EHF started only

at the 23rd IHF Congress in Madeira, which

was held from 23 to 25 October 1990. At

that time, a heated debate had flared up

between the European nations and the

other continents about the future system

of WCh qualifications. While the rest of the

world advocated the continuation of B and

C World Championships, the Europeans

wanted to determine their participants in

the future by means of European Championship

tournaments.

“At that time it emerged once again

that the voices of the Europeans were no

longer sufficiently heard,” Wiederer recalls.

“And so it was decided: we are now

going to create a European Federation.”

Hans-Jürgen Hinrichs, at the time President

of Deutscher Handballbund (DHB),

said: “Interests have developed in different

directions. In terms of rules, Europe differs

quite a lot from Africa.“ On the last day of

the IHF Congress in Funchal, the Swede

Holmqvist and the Swiss national Güntzel

announced that a european umbrella organisation,

the EHF, would be formed in

the first half of 1991. This made Madeira

the most important milestone on the road

to the long overdue foundation of the EHF.

It was only the end of the East-West

conflict in the late 1980s that changed

everything. “Without the collapse of the

Soviet Union, the foundation of the EHF

would not have been possible,” said Güntzel.

The idea of a European federation to

represent common interests had been

21


22


THE

STRUCTURE

OF THE EHF:

CONTINUITY

AS THE KEY

TO SUCCESS

When the EHF’s founding fathers launched the federation

on 17 November 1991, they really got it right the first

time: the way the EHF bodies were structured right at the

start has proved effective and has hardly been modified

since. The tasks of the Federation and hence also

the administration responsibilities have

expanded dynamically as well.

23


“The EHF has really

been lucky to go to

Vienna. As the bid for

the Olympics turned

into a disaster, the

promises made by

Berlin were becoming

increasingly vague”

Former EHF Vice President Hans-Jürgen Hinrichs (2014)

28


Whoever enters the European

Handball Federation’s

headquarters

at Hoffingergasse 18 in

Vienna quickly gains a

vivid impression of the international orientation

and professionalism of the umbrella

organisation’s administration – phone conversations

going on everywhere, offices

bustling with activity. Today, the EHF and

its subsidiary EHF Marketing employ a staff

of 57 from 17 nations in the south-west of

Austria‘s capital. Conversations are therefore

held not only in typically Viennese

dialect, but also in the Hungarian, Danish,

French, Serbian and Polish languages and,

most importantly, in English.

Today, 25 years after the EHF’s foundation,

its administration is organised in a

large number of different departments.

Every member of the staff has clearly defined

duties in their respective areas of

work. Some of them work for Competitions,

the department headed by Markus

Glaser. Others, directed by David Szlezak,

take care of marketing and organisation of

the VELUX EHF Champions League. Others

again, inspired by Helmut Höritsch, drive

activities in the Education & Development

Department. The department managed

by Christoph Gamper dedicates all its

time and effort to IT equipment and facility

support. And then there are the specialists,

headed by JJ Rowland, who focus

exclusively on the EHF’s website and social

media maintenance, as the fans’ thirst for

news and moving images from European

handball is known to be insatiable. And,

of course, in an active sporting federation

comprising 50 nations and many partners,

the Finance and Legal Management Departments

also play an essential role.

The very top of the organisation is formed

by Strategic Business under the leadership

of Secretary General Michael Wiederer.

The General Secretariat is not only responsible

for organising EHF Congresses and

Executive meetings, but also serves as the

central body controlling communication

and the umbrella organisation’s promotional

activities. This department is nothing

less than the hub of European handball.

The many queries and ideas from the

member federations that converge at this

point are centrally collected and organised

to form the basis on which this “think tank”

discusses and develops concepts for the future

of European handball.

This, of course, is always done in close

collaboration with the higher-level body of

elected representatives serving in commissions

whose first origins can be traced back

to the year 1991, but which have become

increasingly numerous and specialised in

the course of the 25 years of EHF history.

In a way, they mirror the stakeholders’ diverse

interests in the umbrella organisation.

After the EHF Congress, which meets

every two years, the next most important

body is the Executive Committee, which

meets to discuss and decide key sports-political

issues between the Congresses. The

Executive Committee also considers motions

submitted by the Professional Handball

Board (PHB), the Women’s Handball

Board (WHB) and the Nations Board (NB)

in pursuit of the interests of national federations

and clubs.

The Congress elects the chair persons

of the Competitions Commission (CC),

the Methods Commission (MC), the Beach

Handball Commission (BC), the Comptrollers

and the legal bodies: the Court of

Handball, the Court of Appeal and the EHF

Court of Arbitration Council. The work of

the Competitions Commission, the Methods

Commission and the Beach Handball

Commission (BC) provides direct input to

the meetings of the Executive Committee,

as their respective chair persons are ex officio

members of the Executive Committee.

The structure and development of these

bodies and institutions, whose members

serve on an honorary basis, also reflect the

25 years of EHF history.

This history started on 15 November

1991 at a deeply symbolic place: the Dom

Hotel at Berlin’s Gendarmenmarkt in the

eastern part of the city whose Wall came

down in November 1989, an event that

significantly accelerated the disintegration

of the two large political blocs. The EHF’s

foundation had been prepared in detail in

a number of informal meetings held after

the 1990 IHF Congress in Madeira. Further

important meetings of the acting commissions

convened in Manchester (GBR) and

Frankfurt (GER) in the spring and summer

of 1991.

29


STRUCTURE

30


“Handball in Europe has

attained a level that

nobody would have

dreamed of twenty years

ago. But we must not

lean back now; there are

still big tasks ahead that

we need to tackle”

EHF President Jean Brihault (2012)


32


The founding session, which was opened

by a concert performed by a wind ensemble,

was funded and organised by

Deutscher Handballbund and the City of

Berlin. On that 15 November, a total of 29

national handball federations established

the European Handball Federation. Its first

President was Staffan Holmqvist (SWE),

its Vice President Hans-Jürgen Hinrichs

(GER). Karl Güntzel (SUI) was elected as

Treasurer, and Jozef Ambrus from Slovakia

as Chairman of the Technical Commission.

Additional members of the EHF Committee,

as the precursor of the Executive Committee

was called at the time, were Tor Lian

(NOR), Claude Rinck (FRA) and Gintautas

Stasiulevicius (LTU).

In the Technical Commission (TC), four

additional members had responsibility

for clearly defined duties: Jan Tuik (NED)

for “Competitions”, Janusz Czerwinski

(POL) for “Methods and Trainers”, Manfred

Prause (GER) for “Rules of the Game

and Referees” und, last but not least, Jesus

Guerrero Beiztegui (ESP) for “School

Sport and Development“. An Arbitration

Commission was likewise established at

this early stage, headed by Jean Kaiser

(LUX). His deputies were Rui Cui Coelho

(POR) and Gunnar Gunnarsson (ISL). Also

elected were the Comptrollers chaired by

the Belgian Frans Stinissen.

The founding document stipulated that

elected EHF officers were limited to three

terms of office. Also, at the time of election,

an officer was not allowed to be older than

65 years. All these details show that key

organisational elements of the continental

federation were laid down as early as

November 1991. The principal tasks were

defined in the EHF’s first set of Statutes,

including the organisation of EHF European

Championships and of the European

Cup, which had previously been organised

by the IHF. The EHF also committed itself

to developing and promoting the sport of

handball proactively, starting in the member

federations from the grassroots level.

On these material objectives of the

EHF, the founding members were in perfect

agreement. There was no consensus

among them, however, on another important

matter, namely the future location of

the EHF headquarters. By hosting the EHF’s

founding convention, the Germans had

hoped to win decisive support for their bid

to establish the EHF Office in Berlin, with

financial assistance for Deutsche Handballbund

expected to come from the City of

Berlin’s bid to host the 2000 Olympics.

By March 1991, however, Österreichischer

Handballbund (Vienna) and Schweizer

Handballverband (Zurich) had also submitted

serious bids. And at the founding

congress, the Slovak (Bratislava) and Portuguese

(Lisbon) federations added two

further excellent proposals. The Germans

believed nonetheless that the odds were

in their favour. “The DHB has made a major

effort and presented us with a tempting

offer for setting up the Office in Berlin,”

Holmqvist reported in August 1991.

But then the situation changed when the

Austrians came up with an even more attractive

offer at the founding convention.

“The Austrians offered to pay the rental

costs for three years,” a newspaper report

said. Vienna would also provide a secretary

with foreign language skills and “introductory

training” for a secretary general.

To this, DHB President Hinrichs initially

reacted with anger: “The way the Austrians

suddenly pulled Vienna out of the hat was

not quite fair.” In November the members’

convention in any case decided to postpone

the decision on this matter to the 1st

EHF Congress that was to be held in Vienna

on 5-6 June 1992.

The attractive bid that the ÖHB finally

presented to the EHF actually went far

beyond what the Germans had offered

(20,000 Deutschmark per year for running

the Secretariat). At that time, the Austrian

federation benefited significantly from the

excellent relations maintained by its President

Erwin Lanc, a former government

minister, to political bodies. The German

competitors’ anger quickly subsided. “The

EHF has really been lucky to go to Vienna,”

Hinrichs said in hindsight shortly before

he passed away in 2014, when speaking

about the foundation phase of the European

umbrella organisation.” As the bid

for the Olympics turned into a disaster, the

promises made by Berlin were becoming

increasingly vague,” Hinrichs said.

The agreement on the location and initial

funding of the Office was signed by the EHF

member federations on 5 June 1992 after

33


STRUCTURE

“Lüthi guaranteed

us a fixed

sum. And he

paid instalments

to us even

before the first

EHF EURO had

started. This

laid the financial

groundwork

for operations,

staff, and other

activities”

Berlin, Lisbon, Bratislava and Zurich had

withdrawn their offers. After a brief preparatory

phase, Secretary General Michael

Wiederer, who had changed from Österreichischer

Handball Bund to the EHF, and

Pia Pedersen, his assistant, started operating

in Vienna on 1 September 1992.

“With just two desks and two telephones,”

Wiederer recalls, smiling. The first official

act was the attendance of the 1992 Women‘s

Youth ECh in Hungary, which, according

to Wiederer, was conducted “without

any structures in place yet”.

At the beginning, money was very tight.

In November 1991, the 29 founding

members had provided the EHF Office

with about 14,000 Swiss francs. In the

year that followed, large federations like

DHB paid 4000 Swiss francs per year,

smaller nations like Moldova 500 francs.

As early as spring 1991, however, the

EHF’s first Treasurer Güntzel – at that time

“still without any mandate or federation”,

as he said – initiated a promising contact

with the Kreuzlingen-based sports rights

marketing firm César W. Lüthi (CWL),

which he had known since the 1986 WCh

in Switzerland.

Güntzel told the owner of the agency

that the EHF was planning to organise European

Championships every two years.

Lüthi was interested. “Do drop in”, the

marketer had asked him, Güntzel says.

“The place where I live – St. Gallen – is actually

not far from Kreuzlingen. “The EHF

pioneers were, of course, also negotiating

with other marketers of TV rights, among

them the legendary Munich lawyer Axel

Meyer-Wölden, who at that time represented

Boris Becker. “If things go well, you

will earn a lot. If they don’t, you won’t,”

Meyer-Wölden explained.

This prompted the handball functionaries

to opt for CWL. The amount “was not

exorbitant”, is as much as Güntzel is allowed

to disclose. “But the special feature

was this: Lüthi guaranteed us a fixed sum.

And he paid instalments to us even before

the first EHF EURO had started. This

laid the financial groundwork for operations,

staff, and other activities.” From

these beginnings evolved a longstanding

partnership characterised by deep mutual

trust: as has been reported, the EHF and Infront

(the successor of CWL) have entered

into a partnership for marketing EHF EU-

ROs up to the year 2020.

In any case, the infrastructure available

was extremely modest when the EHF administration

started working at Gutheil-

Schoder-Gasse 9 in Vienna in the year

1992, in offices looking out on the UHK

Wien club’s former home venue. “I think

we will manage and we will be able to

meet the challenges facing us,” – it was in

this spirit that Secretary General Wiederer

and his team started into this pioneering

period with much optimism and drive.

Rules of procedures issued by the EHF

Committee already regulated key elements

of the work. “The Executive Committee

and I trust each other fully,” were

the words used by Wiederer in praise of

the strong relationship between honorary

officers and professional staff in 1993.

34


Today, some of the problems that confronted

the EHF Office in Vienna in its first

few years appear very trivial. But, back

then, the internet was still the great unknown.

Today, information is distributed

around the globe within fractions of a second.

In the early 1990s, organisational

processes sometimes came to a halt

as communication was either largely unfeasible

or a very complex affair. At that

time, not all member federations had a

telephone or a fax machine at their disposal.

Sometimes, it took weeks for a

match planned in Azerbaijan or Moldova to

be confirmed.

It is therefore no surprise that, as early

as 1993, Alexander Toncourt, assistant

General Secretary, did all he could to build

a communication system designed to facilitate

work for the national federations

as well as for the EHF and the media. The

magic word was: computers! Computers

were the tool that the EHF wanted to use

to record the results of European Cup and

European Championship matches, to pass

them on to news tickers as quickly as possible

and to develop a sound database for

coming generations. This was the vision on

which work commenced with much vigour

in 1994. On 9 and 10 December 1994,

delegates from more than 20 member

federations were trained at the 1st International

Seminar on Computer Info System.

A second workshop was held in Sofia

in early 1995.

The introduction of electronic data processing

was an important step into modern

times. In another field, Dansk Håndbold

Forbund (DHF) rendered valuable development

assistance to the EHF. When the

2nd Women’s EHF EURO ended in Denmark

in 1996, EHFs mobility received an

unexpected boost. “After the finals we were

told that we could take home to Vienna a

number of mobile phones that had been

used by the organising committee and that

were no longer needed,” Markus Glaser

remembers, with a smile on his face. “This

was basically what enabled us to set up the

EHF hotline. This hotline was created after

the EHF Women’s EURO 1996 in Denmark

so that the member federations were

able to contact someone even on weekends.”

The number of the hotline has since

remained unchanged.

This little anecdote illustrates how difficult

these pioneering years were in some

respects. Nonetheless, the new structural

organisation proved workable from the

very beginning. After the first key meetings

– the meeting of the EHF Committee

in Hamburg on 15 December 1991 and

the 1st Ordinary EHF Congress in Vienna

in June 1992 – the delegates conducted

the EHF Youth European Championships

in Hungary and in Switzerland without any

major problems.

1993, the year when Markus Glaser and

Helmut Höritsch joined the Vienna Office

as additional full-time staff, saw not only

the start of the European Cup project,

which the EHF had taken over from the

IHF. By that time, two additional EHF Congresses

had already been staged: the 1st

Extraordinary EHF Congress in Barcelona

in July 1992, organised in the run-up to the

Olympic Games, and the 2nd Extraordinary

EHF Congress in Antwerp. At this initial

stage of the EHF’s development, the main

focus was on competition-related and organisational

matters.

On 6 and 7 August 1993, the EHF held

a conference in Vilnius (Lithuania) on the

structures and mechanisms of the European

umbrella organisation as an informational

event for 16 newly admitted

member federations. By that time, the EHF

already had a total of 45 members. And

then the EHF administration even organised

two matches of a European selection:

on 3 January 1992, a men’s continental selection

played a match against Austria in Vienna,

and on 26 June Poland‘s female national

team played against Euope at Zarbze.

This heaped a heavy workload on the

still very lean staff in Vienna, all the more

so as the EHF administration also had to

prepare and support the work and meetings

of Congresses, the Commission and

working groups.

That these meetings proceeded mostly

smoothly, constructively and in a spirit of

harmony was also attributable to the amazing

continuity in the officers serving on the

elected bodies. Until the year 2000, there

was hardly any change in the team that had

started the EHF project in 1991. President

Staffan Holmqvist, who was recognised

by all parties as the leading figure, served

35


STRUCTURE

36


“A handball match may

only be played over two

periods of 30 minutes,

but we are responsible for

the whole package, which

means everything in and

around the game. It is

our job to create the best

possible conditions for the

sport – not just at the highest

of levels but also for

the beginner. We need to

do this to secure developments

and the future of

the sport. The European

Handball Federation and

all its employees will continue

working intensively

and in partnership with all

parties, both on an internal

and external level“

Secretary General Michael Wiederer (2005)

37


STRUCTURE

This unusual continuity fortunately also

corresponded with the development of

the professional office staff managed by Michael

Wiederer as Secretary General since

1992. Key figures such as Helmut Höritsch,

Markus Glaser, Alexander Toncourt, Vesna

Lazic, Monika Flixeder and Doru Simion

had also been working for the EHF administration

since the 1990s and were therefore

intimately acquainted with all aspects

and details of the organisation. In addition,

many members of the staff have also contributed

top-level handball experience.

Since the 1990s, the tasks that the administration

has had to deal with have become

increasingly comprehensive and complex.

Just two examples to demonstrate the

type of jobs handled by one of the departments

in 1996: among other things Markus

Glaser and Peter Vargo were responsible

for organising the Competitions Commission

and Helmut Höritsch and Claudia Uth

were responsible for organising the Methods

and Competitions Commissions and

for managing the Info System, i.e. for updating

players’ and delegates’ personal details,

match data, the EHF calendar and the

ongoing development of the Info System.

In addition they had to attend to finances

and comptrolling, the organisation of

matches played by European selections and

everything that related to transfers.

the maximum of three terms of office and

steered the EHF until 2004. The same was

true of Treasurer Karl Güntzel, who had

been one of the brains behind the EHF’s

formation and foundation. Its first Vice

President Hans-Jürgen Hinrichs served until

the 5th Ordinary EHF Congress 2000 in

Tel Aviv. The only change in the EHF Committee

happened in 1996, when the Hungarian

Laszlo Sinka replaced the Lithuanian

founding member Gintautas Stasiulevicius.

Changes in the other Commissions were

likewise only marginal, until 2000. In the

Competitions Commission, Frantisek Taborsky

(CZE) took charge of Women’s Competitions

in 1996. Ton van Linder (NED)

joined the Methods Commission in 1994;

later on, Taborsky took over the chairmanship

from Claude Rinck. The Technical Refereeing

Committee led by Manfred Prause

saw no change at all.

To recall: “transfer“ activities virtually exploded

after the Bosman ruling in 1995,

which also granted handball players freedom

of movement in the European Union.

As a consequence, new rules were needed.

While in 1995, the EHF had handled only

683 transfers, this figure rose to 850 one

year later. In 1997, as many as 1100 transfers

were processed. In 2002, finally, the

EHF managed more than 1700 transfers; in

2008, more than 2100.

Transfers are just one particularly impressive

example of how the workload expanded.

Against this backdrop, there was no way

around hiring additional staff for the EHF

Office. In 1997, the EHF already had a staff

of twelve employees working full time or

part time, which meant that the offices were

getting crowded. To get ready for future

challenges, a move to a new, more spacious

building was needed. After the EHF leadership’s

fundamental decision at the 1996

IHF Congress in Hilton Head Island not to

rent but to have a new building built for and

owned by the EHF, the administration took

the project on as an additional responsibility

and completed it within 18 months.

The move took place in May 1998. The

new headquarters at Hoffingergasse 18

were officially inaugurated at the 1st Conference

of Presidents, which has since

been held every two years as an advisory

body. “By completing the construction of

the new EHF house in Vienna in May 1998

a new meeting point and service centre for

38


handball in Europe has been created,”

said Staffan Holmqvist at the formal opening

ceremony.

In the year 1998, the EHF adminstration

comprised four big departments. At the

top the Secretariat, below it the Departments

for Organisation (Alexander Toncourt),

Methods & Development (Helmut

Höritsch) und Competitions (Markus Glaser)

staffed by already 14 employees. In

1996, the EHF family grew to 46 member

federations when Bosnia-Herzegovina and

Malta were admitted at the Congress in

Athens.

The 5th Extraordinary EHF Congress

1999 in Vienna and the 5th Ordinary EHF

Congress 2000 in Tel Aviv moderately

reformed the bodies elected by the Congress.

While the number of Commissions

remained unchanged, one member was

added to the Competitions Commission

to attend henceforth to club competitions

(the member elected was Leopold Kalin

from Slovenia). The Methods Commission

was likewise expanded by one member

tasked with focusing exclusively on the development

of non-competitive handball

(Allan Lund from Denmark). The Court of

Arbitration also received one additional

member, resulting in a total of eight.

The motion to also raise the number of

Executive Committee members from seven

to nine was rejected in 1999, yet adopted

the following year. From then onwards,

the chair persons of the Competitions

Commission and the Methods Commission

have also been ex officio members

of the Executive Committee. At the time,

all these motions were driven in particular

by the political will to raise the number

of female members, as emphasised in the

Annual Report of the year 1999. This was

implemented in 2000 when Helga Magnusdottir

(ISL) was the first woman to be

elected to the Competitions Commission

to take charge of Women‘s club competitions.

Another member to newly join the

Executive Committee was Jean Brihault

(FRA), the future EHF President.

At that time, the key duties of the EHF

management included organisation and

marketing of EHF competitions as well as

the development of effective communication.

In this regard, Sian Rowland, daughter

of the former chairman of the British federation,

who joined in 1999, rendered the

EHF invaluable services with her outgoing

and disarming personality. Rowland’s sudden

death in December 2008, at the age

of only 33, came as a deep shock to all the

staff and marked one of the saddest day in

EHF history, as did the unexpected passing

away of the distinguished EHF pioneer Alexander

Toncourt in 2012.

In 2002, Secretary General Wiederer

underlined that well-targeted and professional

communication was a great asset for

the EHF and its members: “The presence of

handball on today’s sporting market, the

interest that the sport brings with it and the

absolute necessity to communicate with

the handball world as well as with media

and the public both with speed and efficiency

brings with it many challenges at all

levels. Please do no forget that the General

Secretariat responsible for the management

of the daily business is the service

arm of the European Handball Federation

and the office members are here to help

in matters both large and small.” In those

years in any case, a lot of effort was dedicated

to creating the EHF website and the

Media Department.

A major change in EHF history took place

in May 2004, at the 7th Ordinary Congress

in Nicosia (CYP): the end of the presidency

of Staffan Holmqvist. When the Congress

said good-bye to the Swede, the delegates

39


“By completing

the construction

of the new EHF

house in Vienna

in May 1998 a

new meeting

point and service

centre for handball

in Europe has

been created”

EHF President Staffan Holmqvist at

the formal opening ceremony for

the new EHF House (1998)

rose from their seats. President Staffan

Holmqvist left his office after 12 years of

service to a standing ovation for his outstanding

contribution to the entire European

Handball Federation and handball in

general. His work was honoured with the

award of “Honorary President of the European

Handball Federation”. Karl Güntzel

from Switzerland, who had also been one

of the umbrella organisation’s trailblazers

both prior to and after 1991, was likewise

honoured in Cyprus for this great contributions

and was voted honorary member of

the EHF.

Holmqvist’s successor was elected in

a hotly contested democratic vote: after

four candidates had waged offensive election

campaigns, the Norwegian Tor Lian

won with a very slim 23-22 majority over

Jean Kaiser from Luxembourg. Both candidates

had held EHF offices since 1991. Lian

thanked the delegates for their trust and

his predecessor for the good work he had

done. “He was an inspirational and motivational

leader,” Lian said about the Swede

later on. As the subsequent years were to

41


STRUCTURE

“I have been very impressed with

the work of the EHF staff and with

their attitude both to the job and to

the development of handball.

This is part of the culture of the EHF,

we have been happy to meet

challenges and I think we are ahead

of many other international sports

organisations, when we look at the

way we work and the technology

we use. We not only have the best

people on the court, but also off it”

EHF President Tor Lian (2012)

show, the vote for the Norwegian was again

a very good choice for the EHF. During the

eight years of his EHF presidency, Lian also

proved an extremely circumspect and politically

prudent leader.

Lian’s subtle diplomacy was of fundamental

benefit to the EHF, particularly in

his first term of office up to 2008. At that

time, the unity of the umbrella organisation

was at risk, as in 2006 elite clubs created

their own representative body, Group

Club Handball, the precursor of today‘s Forum

Club Handball (FCH). This period was

nothing less but a breaking test for the EHF

as an organisation. It was certainly one of

Lian’s greatest achievements that he, with

the support of Jean Brihault and working

with Secretary General Wiederer and other

associates, developed plans that paved

the way for a joint future of national federations

and clubs. After a phase of transition

and using various inputs, the Vice President

developed a plan for the political and

factual integration of the interest groups

for 2009 and then, successfully, for 2010.

The challenges of this time in terms of

handball policy are reflected by the institutions

of the EHF even today. Following the

resolutions passed by the 9th Extraordinary

EHF Congress 2008 in Lillehammer,

which was held on the fringe of the 9th EHF

Men‘s EURO, club representatives were

included in EHF bodies for the first time.

Three bodies were newly constituted: the

Nations Board (NB) representing the interests

of EHF members concerning national

teams. It was chaired by Stig Morten Christensen

(DEN). The Men’s Club Committee

headed by the Spaniard Joan Marin and

the Women’s Club Committee chaired by

Gunnar Prokop (Austria).

These committees were not only represented

by their chairs in the Competitions

Commission, which was thus expanded

from five to eight members; they also had

42


a say in the policies of the Advisory Board

of EHF Marketing, the organiser of the EHF

Champions Leagues. When these motions

were adopted in Lillehammer, EHF President

Lian emphasised the unity of the Federation:

“The very large support obtained

by these motions is a clear sign of Europe’s

national federations’ desire to preserve

the unity of handball in Europe, to recognise

the fundamental role of clubs in the

success of European handball and to keep

handball in the hands of those whose sole

motivation is the success and development

of sport.”

Ultimately, Lian said in the same year,

the new structural set-up reflected the vital

interests of the many stakeholders of

European handball, who could now safeguard

their interests through these mechanisms:

“The EHF works closely with all

its partners, whether it is the national federations,

leagues, clubs, players, media

or marketing partners. The strong link to

each and every member of these groups is

highly important. Of course, there are different

interests, differing perspectives and

expectations, but it is a necessity to find a

balance for the equation and react quickly

and professionally to changing trends

and demands.”

After a proposed structural change that

had initially been rejected by the Extraordinary

Congress 2009 in Cyprus, the

organisational structure of the EHF was

expanded two years later, at the 10th Ordinary

Congress in Copenhagen (DEN) in

September 2010, by adding representatives

of the European leagues and athletes.

The Congress resolved to establish a Professional

Handball Board (PHB) to replace

the Men’s Club Committee. This PHB has

since consisted of twelve members: the

EHF President and the Secretary General

plus two additional Executive Committee

members, and two representatives each

of the European Professional Handball

Leagues Association (EPHLA) and the European

Handball Players Union (EHPU),

the National Board for the national teams

(NB) and Forum Club Handball (FCH) on

behalf of the clubs. The Nations Board (six

members) for men‘s handball continued

to exist.

The Women’s Professional Board (WHB)

was structured similarly, but comprised

only ten members. Since the 11th Ordinary

EHF Congress 2012 in Monaco, the

chair persons of PHB and WHB have also

been ex officio members of the Executive

Committee, which was hence expanded

43


“The presence

of handball on

today’s sporting

market, the interest

that the sport

brings with it

and the absolute

necessity to communicate

with the

handball world

as well as with

media and the

public both with

speed and efficiency

brings with

it many challenges

at all levels”

from nine to eleven members. This further

differentiation was an almost logical move,

according to Lian: “Here, the EHF Member

Federations voted to form additional bodies,

to accentuate the status and consult

the progress of club and national team

competitions – these are in form of Technical

Committees within the structure of

the EHF (men’s club, women’s club and national

teams), and, parallel to this, Boards

for men’s and women’s club competitions

within the spheres of EHF Marketing.”

Another forward-looking decision had

been taken by the 9th Ordinary EHF Congress

2008 in Vienna: by establishing the

Beach Handball Commission (BC), which

consists of five members, the EHF also

created a first institution for the strong

beach handball movement within its organisation.

The importance that the EHF

accorded this discipline was illustrated by

the fact that the BC chair was also given

a seat on the Executive Committee. The

first chairperson was the Hungarian Laszlo

Sinka, succeeded by the Norwegian Ole

R. Jørstad. The EHF thus took the initiative

not only in modelling this sport, but,

from an early stage, was ready to support

a development that not many would have

expected of beach handball. Quite a few

would have ruled out categorically that the

International Olympic Committee (IOC)

would ever include beach handball in the

programme of the Youth Olympics. But

this is exactly what has been agreed for the

year 2018, when the Youth Olympics will

take place in Buenos Aires.

In 2012, the Executive Committee finally

moved and the Congress agreed to

establish an Anti-Doping Unit (EAU) within

the EHF organisation. Another important

landmark in the development of the

EHF structure was the foundation of its

own marketing entity, EHF Marketing, in

the year 2005 (see chapter on Club Competitions).

This growth of EHF institutions

mirrors the spectacular expansion of administrative

tasks. While the structure of

the EHF administration basically has not

changed since the late 1990s, its headcount

has risen significantly. In 2000, the

EHF was still coping with a staff of 16. Two

years later, it already had 23 employees

and, in 2008, more than 30, including

those employed by EHF Marketing. Today,

as already noted, the number of employees

working for European handball

has exceeded the figure of 50.

President Tor Lian was in any case able

to look back with satisfaction when he decided

to retire from his position in 2012.

“We have initiated a lot of projects, starting

with the setting up of the EHF office,”

said the Norwegian. “I have been very impressed

with the work of the EHF staff and

with their attitude both to the job and to

the development of handball. This is part

of the culture of the EHF, we have been

happy to meet challenges and I think we

45


are ahead of many other international

sports organisations, when we look at the

way we work and the technology we use.

We not only have the best people on the

court, but also off it.”

There has been little change to date to

this very finely balanced system of the

EHF: “Structurally, the EHF is a very complex

body. Outsiders often underestimate

the way we pass decisions,” says

Secretary General Michael Wiederer.

“The most important thing is finding the

right balance. That the EHF agreed sensible

solutions with the clubs, the leagues

and the national federations, was

extremely important for the future of European

handball.” After all, the EHF has

the obligation to serve not just one party,

but all stakeholders.

The baton was then taken over by Jean

Brihault, who was elected as third EHF

President by a large majority at the 11th

Ordinary Congress 2012 in Monte Carlo.

Brihault, a brilliant speaker, rector of a

French university and eminent intellectual,has

led the EHF with great prudence

and, in his considerate and accommodating

way, has managed to balance and

sensibly weight the diverse interests with

the EHF. His charming manners made him

moreover a perfect representative of the

EHF in its external relations.

Brihault’s excellent skills as a facilitator,

for example, had an exceedingly positive

impact on the relations between the EHF

and the International Handball Federation

(IHF). Brihault’s predecessors Staffan

Holmqvist and Tor Lian had also promoted

the EHF’s interests in the global federation

very energetically, in Europe’s best

interests. Especially during Lian’s term

of office, however, certain tensions had

arisen between the umbrella federations

when debates revolved around the powers

of the continental federations.

The relationship between Vienna and

Basel was at times mildly complex as European

handball has always been the biggest

46


powerhouse in international handball. As

is well known, many of the initiatives and

ideas of the past 25 years were conceived

and developed at the EHF headquarters

and by the EHF’s 50 member federations.

Among them were projects such as Minihandball

and Handball at School, which

were largely championed by Vienna and,

today, are organised by the IHF even outside

Europe. In addition, Vienna had discovered

the great potential of beach handball

already at a very early stage (see chapter on

Development.

In recent years, the two umbrella

organisations have developed an excellent

working relationship, though, and the diplomatic

relations among them are characterised

by a fine balance of interests. This is

reflected in jointly organised projects such

as the promotion of so-called Emerging

Nations, with trophies and other well targeted

measures designed to raise the level

at which handball is played. Today, after

25 years of common history, the procedures

followed by IHF and EHF bodies

have become standardised and run smoothly.

Even though divergences of opinions

may occasionally arise in technical matters,

bilateral talks between IHF President

Hassan Moustafa and other senior IHF

functionaries and European leaders are

always conducted in harmony. As already

mentioned, this is also owed, in large part,

to the outgoing EHF President Brihault.

“Handball in Europe has attained a level

that nobody would have dreamed of twenty

years ago,” was Brihault’s analysis after

his election. “But we must not lean back

now; there are still big tasks ahead that we

need to tackle.” The university professor

and former referee declared the development

of women’s handball as one of his

goals. “Women’s handball is a key issue

that we need to work on,” he said in 2012.

“The gap between women and men has

widened in recent years, partly due to the

fast advancement of men’s handball, partly

also due to events such as the VELUX

EHF FINAL4.” By now, a number of objectives

have been reached, such as, for exam-

47


“Structurally, the EHF is a very

complex body. Outsiders often

underestimate the way we pass

decisions. The most important thing

is finding the right balance. That the

EHF agreed sensible solutions with

the clubs, the leagues and the

national federations, was extremely

important for the future of

European handball”

ple, the launch of the FINAL4 Tournament

in the Women’s EHF Champions League.

That Brihault had been watching the

EHF’s development from close up and had

contributed to it for a long time was an asset.

As a delegate, a member of the Executive

Committee and as Vice President he

had witnessed from close quarters how

the umbrella organisation evolved into a

modern provider of services. Against this

backdrop, many would have liked to see

Brihault continuing for at least another

term of office, but the motion proposing a

higher age limit, as envisaged at the 12th

Ordinary EHF Congress in Dublin in 2014,

finally failed, by a very narrow margin, to

win a two-thirds majority at the subsequent

Congress 2015 in Bucharest.

As a model democrat, Brihault accepted

the decision with good humour. “I might

become a good gardener,” he answered

when asked about his plans for the future.

“No, seriously: this marks the end of my career

in handball, as I do not see any other

position that I would aspire to. I had a great

time in handball! When you are sad when

something draws to an end it means that

you enjoyed it! I therefore must be grateful.”

Other important figures in the EHF

also viewed this decision with concern as

it will not only be Brihault who will leave

his position as of the 13th Ordinary EHF

Congress in November 2016, but also his

deputy Arne Elovson (SWE) and Treasurer

Ralf Dejaco (ITA), who after long and dedicated

service to the EHF have likewise surpassed

the 68-year age limit for top functionaries.

In Bucharest, one of the most outstanding

features of the EHF’s 25-year history,

the unusual continuity in its human resources,

was suddenly at risk. The EHF was

faced with a scenario which the umbrella

organisation with its currently 50 members

(plus the two associated federations

of England and Scotland) had not witnessed

to date, namely that from one day

to the next, the partners of the EHF would

have to deal with completely new people

at the top. This was the scenario that

prompted EHF Secretary General Wiederer

to announce in Bucharest that he would

be a candidate for the office of president

at the Anniversary Congress on 17th and

18th November 2016.

Wiederer is the only candidate. His election

would preserve the continuity that

has been a major factor contributing to the

49


“The EHF works closely with all its

partners, whether it is the national

federations, leagues, clubs, players,

media or marketing partners. The

strong link to each and every member

of these groups is highly important.

Of course, there are different

interests, differing perspectives and

expectations, but it is a necessity to

find a balance for the equation and

react quickly and professionally to

changing trends and demands”

EHF President Tor Lian (2008)

EHF’s development, within a quarter-century,

from a nobody in international sports

to a modern institution that is appreciated,

recognised and respected as a serious and

reliable partner by everyone.

However, the EHF has taken on the role of

ambassador to European handball, acting

as a common voice for the European member

federations and representing the entire

European handball family on the international

sporting stage.

Starting with the very conception of the

European Handball Federation, the structure

of the EHF has changed in line with its

dynamic business philosophy and new and

changing trends within the spheres of

European handball. This change has

brought with it new initiatives and indeed

new challenges. The EHF never loses sight

of handball’s unique passion and speed and

strives to use these characteristics as the

underlining statement in the development

of the sport.

The EHF focuses its strengths and invests

its resources on the development of the

sport of handball in general with the overall

objective to optimise product placement

on the competitive sporting market, delivering

the delights of handball in the form of

high-profile branded events.

51


STRUCTURE

EHF

CONGRESSES

1991, NOVEMBER 15-17

Foundation Congress

(Berlin/GER)

1992, JUNE 5-7

1st Ordinary Congress

(Vienna/AUT)

1992, JULY 21

1st Extraordinary Congress

(Barcelona/ESP)

1993, APRIL 30-MAY 2

2nd Extraordinary Congress

(Antwerpen/BEL)

1994, MAY 27-29

2nd Ordinary Congress

(Antibes/FRA)

1994, SEPTEMBER 7

3rd Extraordinary Congress

(Noordwijk/NED)

1996, MARCH 22-23

3rd Ordinary Congress

(Athens/GRE)

1996, JULY 14

4th Extraordinary Congress

(Hilton Head/USA)

1998, APRIL 3

4th Ordinary Congress

(Budapest/HUN)

1999, NOVEMBER 6

5th Extraordinary Congress

(Vienna/AUT)

2000, APRIL 7-8

5th Ordinary Congress

(Tel Aviv/ISR)

2006, MAY 5-6

8th Ordinary Congress

(Vilamoura/POR)

2007, OCTOBER 13

8th Extraordinary Congress

(Rome/ITA)

2008, JANUARY 26

9th Extraordinary Congress

(Lillehammer/NOR)

2008, SEPTEMBER 26-27

9th Ordinary Congress

(Vienna/AUT)

2009, OCTOBER 24

10th Extraordinary

Congress (Limassol/CYP)

2010, SEPTEMBER 24-25

10th Ordinary Congress

(Copenhagen/DEN)

2011, MAY 29

11th Extraordinary

Congress (Cologne/GER)

2012, 22-23

11th Ordinary Congress

(Monte Carlo/MON)

2014, SEPTEMBER 19-20

12th Ordinary Congress

(Dublin/IRL)

2015, NOVEMBER 14

12th Extraordinary Congress

(Bucharest/ROM)

2016, NOVEMBER 17-18

13th Ordinary Congress

(Wolfgangsee/AUT)

2002, JUNE 14-15

6th Ordinary Congress

(Salzburg/AUT)

2003, OCTOBER 4

6th Extraordinary Congress

(Vienna/AUT)

2004, MAY 7-8

7th Ordinary Congress

(Nicosia/CYP)

2004, DECEMBER 18

7th Extraordinary Congress

(Budapest/HUN)

52


EHF

CONFERENCE OF

PRESIDENTS

1998, OCTOBER 17

1st Conference of Presidents

(Vienna/AUT)

1999, NOVEMBER 6

2nd Conference of Presidents

(Vienna/AUT)

2001, NOVEMBER 17

3rd Conference of Presidents

(Vienna/AUT)

2002, JUNE 14

4th Conference of Presidents

(Salzburg/AUT)

2003, OCTOBER 4

5th Conference of Presidents

(Vienna/AUT)

2004, NOVEMBER 6

6th Conference of Presidents

(Vienna/AUT)

2005, NOVEMBER 19

7th Conference of Presidents

(Vienna/AUT)

2007, OCTOBER 13

8th Conference of Presidents

(Rome/ITA)

2009, OCTOBER 24

9th Conference of Presidents

(Limassol/CYP)

2011, NOVEMBER 17

10th Conference of Presidents

(Vienna/AUT)

2013, JUNE 2

11th Conference of Presidents

(Cologne/GER)

2015, NOVEMBER 14

12th Conference of Presidents

(Bucharest/ROM)

EHF

CONFERENCE FOR

SECRETARIES GENERAL

1997, FEBRUARY 21-22

1st EHF Conference for Secretaries General

(Vienna/AUT)

1999, MARCH 12-13

2nd EHF Conference for Secretaries General

(Vienna/AUT)

2003, MARCH 14-15

3rd EHF Conference for Secretaries General

(Vienna/AUT)

2005, NOVEMBER 02-03

4th EHF Conference for Secretaries General

(Vienna/AUT)

2011, NOVEMBER 18

6th EHF Conference for Secretaries General

(Vösendorf/AUT)

2012, APRIL 19-20

7th EHF Conference for Secretaries General

(Copenhagen/DEN)

2014, APRIL 09-10

8th EHF Conference for Secretaries General

(Warsaw/POL)

2016, APRIL 12-13

9th EHF Conference for Secretaries General

(Dubrovnik/CRO)

2007, APRIL 16-17

5th EHF Conference for Secretaries General

(Vienna/AUT)

53


54


IT TOOK

THE EHF

EURO

ONLY 25

YEARS

The launch of the Men’s EHF EURO 1994 in Portugal

proved more challenging than the start of the first women’s

event in Germany. After the competitions had been

moved to winter and the number of entrants increased to

16, both the men‘s and the women‘s events flourished.

Today, the EHF EUROs are outstanding events with

a fantastic reach among television audiences.

55


56


59


EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

“On the sport level it

was an extremely open

tournament. I think this

is a very good signal

concerning European

handball, that we have

this renewal of teams”

EHF President Jean Brihault after the EHF EURO 2016 in Poland

On the final day of the 12th

Men’s European Championship

in Poland, Jean

Brihault wallowed in superlatives.

“EHF EURO 2016

has been the biggest and the best EHF EURO

event to date,” the EHF President said. The

Frenchman took pride not only in record

spectator numbers: 400,622 viewers

clearly beat the previous record hit in the

EHF EURO 2014 in Denmark (316,500).

Brihault also praised the strong commitment

of volunteers and organisers and

highlighted the extraordinarily broad coverage

by the media. “The EHF EURO 2016

was a big success for Poland, for our sport

and handball,” said Andrzej Kraśnicki, President

of the Polish Handball Federation.

“We want to thank all stakeholders including

volunteers. We have one winner and the

winner was handball.”

Two months later, in April 2016, the EHF

presented facts and figures that confirmed

its first impression. In terms of reach, the

EHF EURO 2016 was indeed a tournament

of records, as announced by the EHF and

Infront Sports & Media, its exclusive media

and marketing partner for EHF EURO

events. A cumulative audience of more

than 1.65 billion people followed the action

on television with the event screened

in 175 territories by 75 broadcast partners.

These results make the EHF EURO 2016

the most-watched European Championship

ever, breaking the previous record set

in Serbia at the Men‘s EHF EURO 2012. In

terms of broadcast hours, the event also

surpassed all expectations with 2,958

hours of coverage aired, a 27 per cent increase

on the previous high at Men‘s EHF

EURO 2014 in Denmark.

The success of the German team in winning

the title for the first time since 2004

generated huge interest across the country,

13 million tuning in to public broadcasters

ARD for the final against Spain, a market

share of 42 per cent. In other nations, too,

there was widespread interest, especially

Poland with a cumulative TV audience

of more than 430 million, as well as tradi-

60


tional handball markets such as Denmark,

where games shown on TV2 involving the

Danish team attracted a market share of almost

70 per cent.

The EHF EURO was also a considerable

success across digital and mobile channels

with total audience reach climbing to

over 60 million, an increase of more than

300 per cent compared to the Men’s EHF

EURO 2014, and the official hashtag #ehfeuro2016

generating more than one billion

impressions. Continued investment

from both the EHF and Infront in the production

of engaging content across all of

its digital channels as well as new innovations

including coverage on Snapchat and

Whatsapp ensured that the event was followed

by the largest worldwide audience

yet.

Online and mobile channels attracted record

number of users, with the official website

ehf-euro.com visited by more than one

million people for the first time, an increase

of 44 per cent compared to 2014, generating

over 10.3 million page views. Video content

also proved to be hugely popular with

1.5 million live streams watched on ehfTV.

com, the federation’s dedicated handball

streaming platform, and almost 3.7 million

minutes of content watched on the event’s

official YouTube Channel. “It was fascinating

to see, not only how handball fever spread

across Europe, but also how fans engaged

with the content provided – eager to immerse

themselves in the tournament,” said

Stephan Herth, Executive Director Summer

Sports of Infront Sports & Media.

Benefiting from the increased media

reach were the event’s official sponsors including

AJ (office furniture, materials handling

and storage solutions), BAUHAUS

(do-it-yourself store, house and garden

specialist), engelbert strauss (workwear),

Grundfos (leading pump manufacturer)

and Intersport (sporting goods retailer).

Also new to the EHF EURO events were

Moneygram (money transfer and payment

services) and the VELUX Group (roof windows),

title sponsor of the VELUX EHF

Champions League.

The high viewership numbers and its big

appeal to fans and sponsors impressively

demonstrate the enormous significance

that the EHF EURO has gained as an event

on the calendar of European handball. This

is true not only of the men’s tournament


EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

62


63


EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

but also of the women’s, the juniors’ and

the youth tournaments. The success story

of the EHF EURO was far from predictable

when it was first launched after the foundation

of the EHF.

The idea of a continental championship

is almost as old as handball itself. It was

put forward for the first time in Vienna on

29 April 1934, when an “international

handball conference” was held on the occasion

of an international field handball

encounter between Austria and Hungary.

Shortly after, at the 3rd International Handball

Congress 1934 in Stockholm, Austria

filed a motion proposing the organisation

of European championships. Sports magazines

considered it very likely that the first

European championships might be staged

in 1938. In 1938, the first major indoor

tournament was played by four European

teams, yet the International Handball

Amateur Federation decided to organise

“world championships”.

The idea of a continental championship

was frequently proposed until the EHF was

finally founded in 1991. In 1970, the Danish

Handball Federation (DHF) suggested

holding regular European championships

to be played in tournaments, by the best

eight teams, every two years to determine

the continental champion. This was done

against the backdrop of the gradual decline

of friendlies – by staging an official championship,

the Danes wanted to boost the

attractiveness of international matches.

In 1980, at the 17th IHF Congress, Yugoslavia

filed a motion proposing continental

tournaments for men and women, but

their initiative was again in vain. Considerations

in 1985 regarding a “West European

Cup” for national teams likewise

met with little response. The next initiative

was taken by Dansk Handball Forbund

(DHF) in the spring of 1989 by presenting

a draft paper on European championships

for discussion.

It was only at the IHF Congress 1990 in

Madeira, though, which paved the way for

the foundation of the EHF in 1991, that

the idea became more tangible. Qualifications

should no longer be controlled by

IHF tournaments, Karl Güntzel from Switzerland

said at the time: “They should be

replaced, by 1994, by a European championship

determining WCh qualifications.”

The WCh format was too complex for the

public, added Walter Kreienmeyer from

the West German delegation. The resolution

on the organisation and staging of European

Championships was finally passed

officially by the 1st Ordinary EHF Congress

in Vienna on 5 June 1992.

The draw for the 1992 Women’s and

Men’s Youth European Championships

scheduled for September 1992 was already

held at that very Congress. The final

tournament of the Women’s Youth Championship

was played at Miskolc, Hungary

from 1 to 6 September 1992. The first

EHF European Champion was Norway. The

Men’s Youth tournament took place in the

subsequent week in Switzerland (Gossau,

Herrliberg, Kilchberg, Will and Winterthur),

with Portugal winning the first title.

The venue of the first game played officially

as part of an EHF EURO was Holon, Israel,

where on 13 March 1992 the Turkish

referees Korkmaz/Oytan blew the whistle

to start the qualification match for the 1992

Men’s Youth European Championship, Romania

vs. Czech Republic (16-25). The responsibility

for conducting these trailblazing

tournaments rested with Stig Gustavsson

from Sweden. Serving as EHF representatives

in Hungary were Jozef Ambrus (SVK)

and Jan Tuik (NED), in Switzerland Karl

Güntzel (SUI) and Manfred Prause (GER).

64


“The EHF and the IHF cannot both

stage their major events in summer.

The principal argument: in the run-up

to other major events such as a soccer

WCh or ECh, competition for attention

is so overwhelming that the handball

events would simply not be adequately

perceived by the public and

the media. We therefore decided to

act, last but not least at the instigation

of our key marketing partner. The

perfect time for handball is winter”

How rocky the road to the flagship

event of European handball was going to

be was realised when the first Men‘s EHF

EURO was played in Portugal (3 to 12 June

1994). The EHF’s hope that this tournament

would serve as the only qualification

for the 1995 WCh in Iceland did not materialise,

but at least a number of additional

European places were awarded over and

above those that had resulted from direct

qualification in the 1993 WCh. Supporter

interest was also lacklustre. With swathes

of seats often left empty, atmosphere in

the arenas left much to be desired. At least

the final played in Porto, in which Sweden

started its ECh winning streak by beating

Russia 34-21, was watched by 3,200 fans.

Despite low spectator numbers, how-ever,

the EHF officers’ assessment of Portugal

1994 was nonetheless upbeat as

marketing of the event by partner CWL

produced respectable results: TV reach

was more than satisfactory. “Regular

presence on television benefits handball

marketing,” said Karl Güntzel. The twelveteam

playing format had proved successful:

in sporting terms, the ECh was in any

case more attractive than a worldwide

tournament, as performance differences

between the teams were minimal. At the

subsequent Congress in Antibes, France,

the EHF members, by a 22-8 majority,

voted to play European Championships

every two years in the future. “Now, with

the Olympics, World and European Championships,

the sponsors of handball finally

have a highlight event every year,” EHF

Secretary General Wiederer was pleased

to note.

The biggest obstacle to the continuing

development of the event was considered

to be the fact that the event was held in

June. This became even more apparent

in the second edition of the Men’s European

Championship in Spain in 1996,

which started only a few weeks ahead of

the Olympic tournament in Atlanta. With

many teams focusing on the Olympic

Games, the athletic value of the event was

diminished. Moreover, just one single ticket

to the Olympics was awarded in Seville

and Ciudad Real.

In 1998, the EHF tackled this problem

head-on after the International Handball

Federation (IHF) had resolved, in Novem-

65


EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS


Another typically

European feature:

a coach, here Icelander

Dagur Sigurdsson,

directing Team Austria

against his native

country’s national team

in the EHF EURO 2010.

67


68


“Now, with the

Olympics, World

and European

Championships,

the sponsors of

handball finally

have a highlight

event every year”

ber 1997, to move its World Championships

from March to late May/June. The

initiative to also play the Men‘s European

Championship in January sparked some

heated debates between EHF officers and

leading European leagues, including the

German Bundesliga, which even threatened

to boycott the ECh should such a decision

be taken.

However, EHF Secretary General

Wiederer stated in an interview in June

1998, that the new date was practically

imperative to secure the sound

development of ECh tournaments:

“The EHF and the IHF cannot both

stage their major events in summer.

The principal argument: in the run-up

to other major events such as a soccer

WCh or ECh, competition for attention

is so overwhelming that the handball

events would simply not be adequately

perceived by the public and the media. A

lack of response had already left the seats

empty in the 1994 ECh in Portugal and

in Spain in 1996, except when the home

team made an appearance, or the finals

were being played. We therefore decided

to act, last but not least at the instigation

of our key marketing partner. The perfect

time for handball is winter.” According

to Wiederer, “international federations

have to think ahead further than just from

one week to the next.”

This was not intended as a venting of

personal opinions but reflected the views

of a large majority of EHF working groups

that had discussed this issue. Overall,

23 EHF member countries were represented

in these groups. Most important-

69


EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

70


“The ECh is the top-quality event, as

is gradually being reflected in media

acceptance and media presence.

More than 30 countries are reporting

from the ECh here in Croatia – live or

with a time lag. This is more than has

ever been attained in any WCh. After

all, we cannot take any decisions that

go against the markets and hence

against the overall interests of European

handball. For the sport of handball,

the two-year rhythm is a matter

of substance, not just of finances”

ly, a survey among TV stations had had

a major impact, Wiederer reported. As

a result, the EHF made concessions to

the large leagues and umbrella organisations.

The ECh qualification system was

changed to reduce the number of match

dates. When German league representatives

still threatened to boycott the competition,

EHF President Staffan Holmqvist

said: “Being a democratic nation, Germany

will surely respect a clear decision taken

by the Congress.” And this assessment

proved correct.

The motion drafted by the working

group on “European Championships

in the Future” was presented at the 4th

Ordinary EHF Congress in Budapest on

3 and 4 April 1998 and finally adopted

by a large majority. In January 2006, the

Men’s European continental tournament

was held in Croatia as the first one staged

in winter. The women’s national teams

had been playing their European Championships

in December already since

1996. At the same time, the number of

EHF EURO entrants was stepped up from

twelve to 16 teams, but only from 2002

onwards.

The 2nd Men’s EHF EURO in Spain

marked another organisational milestone.

As the Spanish organising committee

had not opted for traditional venues

like Barcelona and Granollers, as indicated

in their bid, but instead chose cities

and halls with less affinity to handball,

spectator attendance, except at matches

featuring the home team, was paltry. As a

consequence, the EHF claimed the right to

veto major changes of this kind in future

events.

71


“Spain has taught us to remain firmly

in control. We have since been working

on media concepts that involve the host

while at the same time safeguarding European

interests,” said Secretary General Michael

Wiederer after the 2000 ECh in Croatia.

Since that time, the manifold activities

conducted in organising an ECh by the EHF

as owner of the event, by the organising

committee, the hosting national federations,

media and TV partners as well as the

sponsors have been closely coordinated.

One concrete consequence of the unexpectedly

low spectator figures in Spain

in 1996 was the change of the venues

originally planned for the 1998 ECh. The

games were moved from Rimini and Pesaro

to Bolzano and Merano in order to attract

more supporters from Germany. Another

example: inspections held prior to

the 2000 ECh showed that Split was excessively

prone to windy and foggy conditions,

which prompted the EHF to decide against

the port city on the Adriatic Sea in order

to avoid problems with the timetable.

The 1996 tournament in Spain was

marked by the politically sensitive return

of the Yugoslav team, which after the Balkan

wars had been excluded from international

tournaments for several years. The

Spanish team, on the other hand, showed

first signs of its great potential by reaching

the final. There, however, the home team

lost narrowly 22-23 against the strong

Russian team. Two years later, in Italy in

1998, the tournament was marked by a

strong showing of the Swedes led by playmaker

Ljubomir Vranjes. After beating title

defender Russia in the semi-finals (27-24),

they kept the – again strong – Spanish team

under control and won 25-23, carrying off

the second continental title to Scandinavia.

When EHF officers looked back on the

EHF’s first decade in 2001, they were able

to note the development of the European

Championships with pride and satisfaction.

That moving the tournament to winter

had been the right decision had already

emerged at the 4th ECh in Croatia. After

many dramatic encounters, which culmi-

72


“Hosting an ECh

after Sweden will

be a challenge.

They have set a

standard that is

hard to rival”

EHF Executive Board Member

Tor Lian after the Men’s EURO 2002

nated in the ECh final of Zagreb, where the

Swedes triumphed for the third time after

beating Russia, the tournament had genuinely

evolved into a new beacon event.

According to EHF President Staffan

Holmqvist, the European Championships

were characterized by strong athletic performance,

with entrants playing at largely

comparable levels of performance. There

was no two- or three-tier class system like

in Ice hockey. “Six years ago, the handball

market was rigidly structured, and a new

product like the handball ECh was hard

pressed to find its place and acceptance,”

recalled Wiederer.

“This has meanwhile been achieved in a

process that has occasionally proved painful.

The ECh is the top-quality event, as is

gradually being reflected in media acceptance

and media presence. More than 30

countries are reporting from the ECh here

in Croatia – live or with a time lag. This is

more than has ever been attained in any

WCh.” As a logical consequence, the twoyear

rhythm of the tournaments was maintained.

Wiederer: “After all, we cannot

take any decisions that go against the markets

and hence against the overall interests

of European handball. For the sport of

handball, the two-year rhythm is a matter

of substance, not just of finances.”

That the decision to raise the number

of EHF EURO entrants was as good as gold

was demonstrated in the year 2002, which

was celebrated as a climax in tournament

history. What happened in Sweden in January

was a genuine handball fairy tale, with

the number of tickets sold virtually exploding

and crowds filling even huge arenas like

the Stockholm Globen. A total of 276,282

tickets were sold, more than double the

previous record. Cumulative viewership

rose to about 500 million.

In this tournament of superlatives, exciting

games were guaranteed: Croatia,

who went on to win the WCh title one year

later, took last place in the Sweden EURO.

Iceland, on the other hand, delivered a

brilliant performance, led by their famous

left-handed player Olafur Stefansson. The

highlight of the event was the final at the

Globen, in which the experienced Swedish

home team met the young German team

in a match that went into extra time: finally,

Sweden lived up to its reputation as an ECh

specialist and won their fourth title. “Europe

is strong enough to enter 16 teams,”

EHF Secretary General Michael Wiederer

had opined before the tournament – and

he was proven right.

After the Sweden tournament, EHF officer

Tor Lian had an inkling that not all future

tournaments would feature similar

records. “Hosting an ECh after Sweden will

be a challenge,” the Norwegian said. “They

have set a standard that is hard to rival.”

This foreboding was indeed to materialise

with regard to a number of parameters. On

the other hand, the establishment of a set

routine for procedures and processes prior

to and during the event, which had been

rigorously promoted by the EHF, proved

very helpful to subsequent tournament organisers.

Accreditation systems, ticketing

procedures, information systems deployed

during the tournament and also the provision

of flooring by the EHF – all this was to

be professionalised even further, promised

EHF Secretary General Michael Wiederer

after the Sweden ECh. To raise these standards,

the EHF also engaged in an exchange

of views with representatives of UEFA,

the Union of European Football Associations,

whose President Lennart Johannsen

had watched the dramatic final between

the home team and Germany from the

VIP stands.

Given the infrastructure available it was

almost to be expected that the 6th EHF

73


74


EURO in Slovenia would not be break any records

in terms of tickets sold. For this, the capacities

of Hala Tivoli in Ljubljana and the other

arenas at Koper, Celja and Velenje were just not

big enough. But the ECh was again well organised

and boasted a great atmosphere. Some 88

percent of tickets were sold, and the organisation

committee directed by Zoran Jankovic was

showered with praise from all sides. With welltrained

security guards at hand, the organisers

retained tight control of the politically charged

encounters between the nations of ex-Yugoslavia,

which had been classified as high-risk matches.

“The organisers have invested a lot of time

and money,” lauded Helmut Höritsch, the EHF’s

Senior Development Manager.

On the other hand, the EHF had to deal with

criticism of the playing format used in Slovenia

as it emerged that the rule change resulting

in the “fast middle” had made the game much

faster and hence made even more demands on

the players’ physical strength. In view of this development,

the EHF had already added one additional

rest day compared with the 2002 ECh.

“The players are of course exposed to enormous

levels of stresses and strains,” said Höritsch.

“The ECh, however, is what it is: a top product.”

In due course, the EHF reacted to the new conditions

by significantly extending the tournament

in order to provide more time for regeneration.

While, initially, the tournament had been played

over ten or eleven days, the 2016 ECh in Poland

lasted 17 days – a concession to safeguard the

professional players‘ physical health.

Where media coverage was concerned, the

2004 event in Slovenia as well as later tournaments

continued the trend of a steadily increasing

viewership. In 2004, the EHF EURO matches

attracted about 709 million viewers in a total of

190 countries. Two years later, this figure rose to

760 million spectators. The 2010 competition

held in Austria was the first to hit the milestone

of a television audience of one billion. In 2012,

in Serbia, the cumulative number of spectators

almost reached 1.5 billion. The development

in the social media was likewise breath-taking:

during the EHF EURO 2010 in Austria, the

ehf-euro.com internet platform was accessed

by a new record of about ten million users. Almost

one million fans watched videos on the

EHF‘s YouTube channel. These figures reflect the

great appeal that the EHF EURO had attained by

that date as the “most challenging tournament in

global handball”. At the same time, the number

of TV stations and journalist accreditations kept

rising. 800 journalists were accredited in Switzerland,

in Austria even around 1200.

75


“This was the

biggest project

we ever handled”

TV2 sports director Morten

Stig Christensen after the

Women’s EHF EURO 2002

Even though the EHF EUROs 2006 to

2010 were not held in “traditional” handball

countries, the marked upward trend in

these measurable parameters was neither

interrupted nor stopped. The EHF hence

fulfilled its mandate, as the umbrella federation,

of developing the sport in a sustainable

manner even outside the major handball

markets.

The next new record in ticket sales was

registered in Serbia in 2012, with approximately

300,000 tickets sold. This

figure was boosted even further in the

EHF EURO held in Denmark. The figures

recorded in Norway in 2008 (180,000)

were likewise considered very strong. Basically,

all of these parameters confirm that

there is a trend leading towards handball

mega-events.

This trend is certainly also attributable

to the entrants’ closely-matched strength.

This was underlined in the 2016 ECh in

Poland, when two crass outsiders – Germany

and Norway – reached the semi-finals.

While France, Denmark and Poland

were the greatest disappointments of the

tournament in terms of performance, the

showings of teams like Sweden, Russia and

Slovenia were not significantly inferior to

the final medalists. The times when EHF

EUROs were dominated initially by Swe-

76


den and France (title winner in 2006, 2010,

2014) and Denmark (2008, 2012) seem

to be definitely over. The 2018 ECh in Croatia

is expected to see more than eight hot

medal contenders among the entrants.

Against the backdrop of this enormous

uptrend, the decision taken by the EHF Congress

in Dublin in 2014 to increase the number

of EHF EURO entrants from 16 to 24

nations from 2020 onwards, was certainly

appropriate. After all, beside the well-established

handball nations there have always

been quite a few strong handball nations

that only just failed to qualify for participation

in the EHF EURO, among them, for

example, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and

Austria, but also Switzerland and Portugal.

For these teams, playing in the EHF EURO

offers a big opportunity to make their sport

more popular in their home countries longterm.

Another compelling argument said

that the EHF and the organising committees

could not afford the absence of economically

important members such as Germany, as

had happened in the EHF EURO 2014.

Originally, the increase in the number of

participants had only been planned from

2022. At the initiative of the three organisers

of the 2020 ECh in Sweden, Norway

and Austria, this increase took effect early

following a unanimous vote at the 2014

EHF Congress in Dublin. The playing format

has already been defined: in each of

the three countries, two preliminary round

groups (of four teams each) will be played,

with two teams each qualifying for the main

rounds in Sweden and Austria. The finals

will be staged in Sweden. While the sporting

outcome is still highly uncertain, one thing is

for sure: 2020 is going to mark new records

in EHF history.

77


EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

The Media Call has become an

institution in every EHF EURO.

Before the semi-finals, the media

get to talk to the professional

players and coaches of the

best teams of the tournament.

Here, Norwegian coach

Christian Berge is taking

questions at Krakow.

78


79


EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

The Women’s European Championships

have recently also hit record after

record. In the wake of the Women’s EHF

EURO 2014 in Hungary and Croatia, the

EHF and its marketing partner Infront

Sports & Media reported the largest

audiences in the event’s history. The

cumulative number of spectators

amounted 723 million, up 90 percent

versus the Women‘s EHF EURO 2012 and

more than 50 percent above the previous

all-time record registered in the Women’s

EHF EURO 2006 in Sweden (461 million).

In terms of broadcast hours, the results

are equally remarkable. With 1,919 broadcast

hours, the women’s 2014 tournament

in Hungary and Croatia further

confirms its upward trend through an

impressive 65 per cent climb of 758

hours compared to 2012. Overall, the

tournament was aired in 145 countries,

following agreements brokered by Infront

with 85 broadcasters receiving an HDTV

signal produced with up to 15 cameras

per match.

The strong increase was a result of the

successful, market-by-market sales approach

by Infront, which has seen a much

broadened reach in South America, as

well as intensified news coverage worldwide.

Together with the Men’s EHF EURO,

2014 was the strongest year in terms of

exposure for European handball, totalling

4,252 broadcast hours.

Jean Brihault, EHF President, commented:

“These extremely positive audience

figures underline once again the huge

worldwide following that the EHF EURO

events enjoy, whilst at the same time

showing us just how popular the women’s

game is with TV audiences. The continued

investment by the EHF and our partners

Infront in digital media is also paying

dividends, helping us to attract an ever-increasing

number of new fans to our sport.”

Overall, the digital campaign for the

Women’s EHF EURO 2014 resulted in

improved visitor numbers across all available

platforms. Strong fan engagement

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has been fostered even further through

the tournament’s social media outreach

across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.

The re-launched official championship

website at www.ehf-euro.com attracted

more than 3.3 million page views from

275,000 unique visitors. Particularly

striking was the increase in the number of

mobile users, benefitting from the website’s

new responsive design.

Streaming was offered through the dedicated

ehfTV.com channel, with in excess

of 550,000 video streams watched live

and on-demand. In addition, handball fans

were able to enjoy near-live clips and daily

programme teasers together with special

highlights on the championship’s official

YouTube Channel, resulting in more than

2.3 million minutes of video watched.

The increased exposure was beneficial

not only for the sport and its fans but also

the eight official sponsors that Infront

had secured for the women’s championship:

Actavis (generic pharmaceuticals), AJ

(office furniture), Bauhaus (workshop,

house and garden specialist), bring (transport,

warehousing and logistical services),

engelbert strauss (workwear), Gjensidige

“The players are

of course exposed

to enormous

levels of stresses

and strains. The

ECh, however, is

what it is: a top

product”

Helmut Höritsch, EHF senior manager,

after the Men’s EHF EURO 2004

in Slovenia

(insurance), Grundfos (pump systems)

and Intersport (sports goods retailer).

These are impressive results considering

that women’s team sports – and this

applies not only to handball – have traditionally

required more complex marketing

efforts. The recognizable determination

not to make any difference in organising,

developing and marketing men’s and women’s

handball was documented by EHF delegates

as early as at the umbrella organisation’s

founding session in 1991. And it was

hence only logical that the history of the

Women’s EHF EURO also commenced in

the year of 1994.

As a matter of fact, the 1st Women’s EHF

EURO held in Germany (17 to 25 September

1994) enjoyed a better start than

the men’s. In many respects, the level of

performance was higher than in the men’s

first-ever event in Portugal. After the inaugural

game, which was played by very evenly-matched

teams and drew large crowds,

with the Danes finally gaining the upper

hand over the home team in the final, the

EHF was very happy with the results. Media

coverage was rated as “overwhelming” as

more than 53 million viewers in 15 countries

watched the television broadcasts and

more than 400 print journalists reported

on the matches from five venues. In addition,

the first-ever tournament was also a

big success financially, with the host receiving

a DM 400,000 share out of the profit.

The Women’s EHF EURO obviously also

benefited from the tournament being

moved to winter. In December 1996, when

Scandinavian fans celebrated the matches

played in Denmark, viewership rose to

a new all-time high. That year, the home

team defended their title in the Herning

final against Norway 27-23 in front of

4500 spectators. The entire event thrived

on the fantastic atmosphere created by

the Danish handball fans’ enthusiasm for

women‘s handball after the Danes had taken

Olympic gold just a few months earlier.

Building on these achievements, women’s

handball was at times even more popular

in the handball heartland of Denmark than

men’s handball.

The euphoria and enthusiasm that had

marked Herning was not quite matched

81


y the Netherlands, the hosts of the 3rd

ECh 1998. This did not come as a surprise,

though. Compared with the first

two tournaments, almost all media and

economic parameters were down. Nonetheless,

the decision to award the tournament

to a country with little handball

tradition was strategically well-founded.

Umbrella organisations such as the EHF are

always keen to develop new markets. In

sporting terms, the Norwegians took their

revenge in Amsterdam for their defeat in

the 1996 final and started their own winning

streak in the EHF EURO.

Two years later, the Ukraine and the

new European Champion Hungary were

the first to break the Scandinavians’ predominance

– this time around, in Romania,

a country with a long-standing handball

track record. In terms of spectator numbers,

Romania marked new records in

2000, including 93,450 tickets sold. The

cumulative TV audience of 156 million

viewers also exceeded by far the records of

the three previous championships.

The Women’s EHF EURO 2002 in Denmark

finally set entirely new standards.

This tournament, too, quickly demonstrated

that increasing the number of entrants

to 16 teams had been the right move. The

entire tournament offered exciting, top

class sport. That the entrants were well

matched was demonstrated by the relatively

poor results of two long-standing

handball nations: Germany in place eleven

and Sweden only in place 15, while Denmark

again scored victory over Norway.

The great popularity of Danish handball

players was reflected in the TV ratings of

the final in Denmark: on 15 December

2002, more than 2.2 million Danes out of

the country’s 5.6 million inhabitants were

watching as the home team beat neighbouring

Norway 25-22 in the bouncy

atmosphere of the Arhus Arena, with

star goalkeeper Karin Mortensen saving

24 goals.

The high levels of technology and staffing

deployed by the Danish TV station

TV2 to produce all (!) of the 48 matches

live was extraordinary and a harbinger of

things to come. The final was broadcast

live to 29 countries. Overall, the ECh was

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EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

84


“These extremely positive

audience figures underline

once again the huge worldwide

following that the EHF EURO

events enjoy, whilst at the same

time showing us just how popular

the women’s game is with

TV audiences. The continued

investment by the EHF and our

partners Infront in digital media

is also paying dividends, helping

us to attract an ever-increasing

number of new fans

to our sport”

EHF President Jean Brihault about

the Women’s EHF EURO 2014

85


86


“It was fascinating

to see, not only

how handball fever

spread across

Europe, but also

how fans engaged

with the content

provided –

eager to immerse

themselves in the

tournament”

Stephan Herth (Infront Sports & Media)

analysing the Men‘s EHF EURO 2016

in Poland

televised to more than 50 countries (in

1994 it had only been 15). “This was the

biggest project we ever handled,” said TV2

sports director Morten Stig Christensen,

currently Secretary General of the Danish

Handball Federation. Financially, the host

also did pretty well: Dansk Handbold Forbund

(DHF) made a profit of more than half

a million euro out of the EHF EURO 1996.

Interestingly, in 2002, a debate was

sparked in women‘s handball that in

men‘s handball was conducted only two

years later: a committee of athletes asked

the EHF to ease the playing schedule of the

Women’s EHF EURO in order to allow the

players from the Scandinavian professional

leagues more time for regeneration.

Again, the EHF listened to their concerns

and initially extended the tournament

from ten to eleven days. From 2008 onwards,

the Women‘s EHF EURO lasted

13 days, since 2014 it has finally been

15 days.

Records were also broken in the tournaments

that followed: in the Women’s EHF

EURO 2004 in Hungary, the organiser sold

more than 124,000 tickets. The event was

covered by more than 40 TV stations. Two

years later, in Sweden, the number of journalist

accreditations rose above 500 for

the first time and has since remained stable.

The EURO 2008, in FYR Macedonia,

was the first top event of women‘s handball

that was covered also by the Dubai Sports

Channel. A new record, with 220,000

tickets sold, was set in the Women’s EHF

EURO 2010, the first one co-hosted by two

countries – Denmark and Norway.

In parallel to the men’s events, the EHF

also continuously enhanced the corporate

identity of the Women’s EHF EURO.

The aim was to use images of the event to

create high recognition value. This was

achieved, for example, by using uniform

flooring in all EHF EUROs. When floors

came in yellow and blue, the spectators realised

immediately that an EHF EURO was

being played. When the EHF logo and the

entire corporate identity were updated,

the floor colour scheme was adjusted as

well. From 2016 onwards, EUROs will be

played on light blue/dark blue flooring.

One typical feature of the Women’s EHF

EURO has always been the predominance

of Scandinavian teams. Especially the

Norwegians, under the guidance of their

coaches, have left their mark on the

Women’s EHF EURO over the past decade

with their outstanding high-speed game.

The Norwegians took victory in five of

the most recent six tournaments. In the

EHF EURO 2012 in Serbia, the team saw

another triumph within easy reach but, in

the final, lost against Montenegro in extra

time due to a streak of bad luck.

These results might suggest that events

have become boring from a sporting perspective.

Nothing could be further from

the truth. The spate of surprises witnessed

in the tournaments show that the teams’

sporting performance in the Women’s EHF

EURO is closely matched. In 2010, the

great handball nation Germany, regarded

as a potential winner, was forced out as

early as the preliminary round. In the EHF

EURO 2006, superpower Denmark took

the last place in its main round group.

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88


Moreover, there have been recognisable

shifts in the hierarchy of European women’s

handball. Nations like Spain, who took silver

in the EHF EURO 2008, and France have

gradually become stronger in the course of

time. For many years, the Russians used to

travel to EUROs as title hopefuls. The tale

of the fabulous emergence of Montenegro

as a great handball nation and their winning

of the title in 2012 would fill several

books. Last, but not least the Swedes, led

by superstar Isabell Gulldén, have proven

their increasing strength. They – alongside

the French, the Spanish and, more recently,

also the Netherlands players – are ready to

play at the very top at any time.

Of course, the history of the Women‘s

EHF EURO has also known setbacks. The

biggest crisis in tournament history was

certainly the decision taken by the Nederlands

Handball Verbond in June 2012,

to withdraw as organiser of the Women’s

EHF EURO. This forced the EHF to hurriedly

call for a fresh round of bids for the tournament.

Fortunately, the Serbian Handball

Federation, which had just hosted the Men’s

EHF EURO 2012 to everybody’s satisfaction,

volunteered to fill the gap and, with

great passion and attention to detail, organised

a tournament that truly did honour

to a Women’s EHF EURO. The dramatic final

of Montenegro vs. Norway played in the

huge Belgrade Arena was watched by some

10,000 fans – another new record for the

final of a Women‘s EHF EURO.

As the withdrawal of the year 2012

shows, the history of the Women‘s EHF

EURO has not been without some disruption

and turbulence. Basically, however, the

tournament has seen a fantastic development

since it was first staged in 1994. As

far as organisation is concerned, the Women’s

EHF EURO is among the best that women’s

handball has to offer. The number of

tickets sold has risen steadily in the course

of time while viewership and reach have

increased by leaps and bounds in recent

years. And also in terms of athletic

performance, the EHF EURO – just like the

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EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

90


The first impression is

important: over the years,

the EHF has been

consistently developing

the EHF EURO’S corporate

identity. A new feature

in the EHF EURO 2016

in Poland was the new

flooring in two different

shades of blue.

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EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

This is also part of the EHF EURO:

meeting new cultures.

At the EHF EURO 2008 in Norway,

EHF members enjoy a joke at

Stavanger’s Petroleum Museum.

92


men’s – has earned its reputation of being

the most challenging tournament in the

world of handball.

The future of this outstanding event has

already begun, with the 12th Women’s

EHF EURO due to start very soon: From

4 to 18 December, Svenska Handbollförbundet

will be playing host to the best

women’s teams of Europe due to compete

in Stockholm, Kristianstad, Malmö, Helsingborg

and Gothenburg. Judging by the

performance that was on display in Sweden

in 2006, the upcoming event is likely

to break new records – particularly as the

home team led by Isabell Gulldén, this

year’s Champions League winner, will be

among the favourites and eager to end the

predominance of their Norwegian neighbours.

In December 2018, the Fédération

Française de Handball (FFHB) will welcome

the best national teams taking

part in a Women’s EHF EURO. Two years

later, Denmark and Norway will again

be hosting a mega-event. With hosts like

these, one does not have to be a prophet

to forecast a bright future for this

tournament.

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94


WHERE

THE

FUTURE

PLAYS

OUT

Big stars like Nora Mørk, Christina Neagu, Domagoj Duvnjak,

Nikola Karabatic and Niklas Landin Jacobsen gained their first

international experiences in EHF tournaments for younger age

categories. These events have also offered delegates and

referees the opportunity to hone their skills for higher-level

assignments yet to come and have hence served as

schools for (handball) life.

95


99


YOUTH EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

“On the way to the top,

the youth and junior

championships were

crucial to my development

even if it was not

always easy, eventually

I was playing in the junior

team parallel to being

in the senior team”

Domagoj Duvnjak

100


Anybody who wanted to

gaze into the crystal ball

of women’s handball was

well placed if they were

present at Rotterdam’s

Topsportcentrum on 14 August 2011.

In the middle of the Dutch summer,

before the start of the actual season, teenagers

were playing here for the crown

of European handball, in the final of the

Women’s 19 European Championship. Pitted

against each other were Denmark, the

country with the great handball tradition

and a virtually inexhaustible pool of talents,

and crass outsider Netherlands, where

the sport of handball had time and again

been confined to a marginal existence.

On that day, however, this clash of cultures

was all but invisible. Supported by

2,100 fanatic spectators, the Dutch hosts

gave the Scandinavians a really hard time.

Goalkeeper Tess Wester saved three of

the favourites’ penalty throws and quite

generally did a a great Job saving the ball

the ball (and was celebrated as her team’s

best player). The tournament’s top scorer,

Lois Abbingh, scored nine goals. Angela

Malestein as right wing and playmaker Estevana

Polman even exhibited such a strong

performance that they were even voted

into the tournament’s All-star team.

In the end, after a tough fight, the Netherlands

were honourably defeated 27-29,

but had gained some invaluable experiences

in a match played at the highest level.

They felt how close they had come to the

big handball national Denmark. While they

lost a final, they won great motivation for

the future.

Some four years later, the core of this

team had a fantastic run that took it to the

next final – the final of the Handball World

Championship 2015 in Denmark. They

lost again, though, this time against Norway.

But the Netherlands had made it to the

global top, and for good, as shortly thereafter

the team also qualified, for the first

time, for the Olympic handball tournament

in Rio de Janeiro. And who knows, perhaps

both these finals were only just a harbinger

of the rise of Dutch handball at large.

These Dutch teenagers, who used a youth

tournament as a catapult lifting them to the

top of world handball, are just one eminent

example in the history of younger age category

tournaments held under EHF auspices.

For many of the stars, these tournaments

were the first time they were exposed to

an international atmosphere and got a

sense of what it was like to compete with

other excellent players of their generation.


as ist eine zweizeilieg Bildunterschirft,

ür dieses Bild.

102


Any other examples? – 2006 saw the start

of the stellar career of Domagoj Duvnjak

in Estonia, when he led his Croatian team

to victory in the EHF Men‘s 18 European

Championship and was voted Most Valuable

Player (MVP). “To be voted the Most

Valuable Player at the Men’s 18 European

Championship was for me the sign that I

had a certain talent. From out of the youth

national team: many of the players have

transitioned well into the senior men’s

team“, said Duvnjak. “You have to take it

one step at a time. On the way to the top,

the youth and junior championships were

crucial to my development even if it was

not always easy, eventually I was playing

junior team parallel to being in the senior

team.”

And then there was Christina Neagu. The

Romanian back took part in the Women’s

17 European Championship 2005 and

the Women’s 19 European Championship

2007, where as Top Scorer and All Star

she already signalled her enormous potential.

“In Romania there is a tradition of

good coaching for the younger generation

of players, but it is only through the international

tournaments such as the YAC European

Championships that you see where

you stand in comparison and where you

need to improve. Moreover, these competitions

are the way to the adult competitions

and that is a great motivation,” said

Neagu. Both Duvnjak and Neagu quickly

became mainstays of their national teams

and won the highest honours: both have

won the title of World Handball Player of

the Year.

And it is this learning and this experience

that the EHF seeks to promote. “These European

Championships for Younger Age

Categories serve a very important purpose

for the up and coming generations,” said

EHF Secretary General Michael Wiederer.

“The EHF regards this as one of its core missions.

With the tournaments, we have created

a rhythm that allows a young player

to play close to 100 international matches

before moving on to the senior men’s or

women’s competitions. For young players,

these tournaments and events thus already

become a way of life.”

It was therefore no coincidence that the

history of the EHF started, in a way, with the

Youth European Championships. The first

qualifications for this event had already

been played in the spring of 1992 even

before any decision had yet been taken

on where the EHF office would finally be

located. On 1 September 1992, only four

weeks after the inauguration of the Office

in Vienna, the Women’s Youth European

Championship was started in Miskolc, Hungary

– “without any structures in place yet,”

as Wiederer recalls.

The beginning of this history was in any

case marked by much acclaim and interesting

trends. The finals in Miskolc were

watched by some 3,000 fans and two

matches featuring the Hungarian hosts were

even televised live. And when the young

Norwegians won the first final in EHF history

against Denmark 17-14, the competitors

were amazed by the winners’ professional

attitude. Even back then, the young Norwegian

players were training together once

a week, which enabled them to attain the

level of performance of a Bundesliga team,

as the German coach Renate Schubert observed.

It was hence already at this inaugural

tournament that the first signs of the Scandinavians’

future predominance began to

show.

The large degree of improvisation that

was necessary at this pioneering stage was

highlighted in the Men’s Youth European

Championship, which started at Winterthur,

Switzerland and its environs on 7 September

1992, just one day after the Miskolc

final. At that time, everything had been organised

in great haste, with teams accommodated

in Swiss civil protection shelters,

in spartan twelve-bed rooms. When the

Portuguese delegation lodged a sharp protest,

arrangements were changed at short

notice. While two teams spent the night in

the assembly halls of two schools, the Portuguese

moved to a hotel paid for by the

Portuguese federation.

This was not the reason, though, why the

players from south-western Europe were

the surprise winners of the tournament, having

defeated Norway (28-27) in the semifinal

and Russia (30-24) in the final, in extra

time. The true foundation of their triumph

had again been the very long and painstaking

preparation of the team, who spent

58 days practising (the other teams had

dedicated significantly less time to training).

This very first tournament already featured

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“In Romania there

is a tradition of

good coaching

for the younger

generation of

players, but it is

only through the

international tournaments

such as

the YAC European

Championships

that you see where

you stand in comparison

and where

you need to improve.

Moreover,

these competitions

are the way to the

adult competitions

and that is a great

motivation”

Christina Neagu

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YOUTH EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS


“These European Championships for

Younger Age Categories serve a very

important purpose for the up and

coming generations. The EHF regards

this as one of its core missions. With

the tournaments, we have created

a rhythm that allows a young player

to play close to 100 international

matches before moving on to the

senior men’s or women’s competitions.

For young players, these

tournaments and events thus already

become a way of life”

EHF Secretary General Michael Wiederer (2016)

players that later were to rise to celebrity

status in their sport. One of them was the

young German goalkeeper, the first goalkeeper

to be named World Player of the

Year in 2004: Henning Fritz.

That these youth tournaments served as

handball’s school of life not only for players,

but also for referees and functionaries,

is clearly illustrated by 1992 appointments.

Serving as EHF representatives in

Hungary were Jozef Ambrus (SVK) and Jan

Tuik (NED), in Switzerland Karl Güntzel

(SUI) and Manfred Prause (GER) – four people

that were to mark the initial years of the

development of the EHF organisation. The

qualification for the Men’s Youth European

Championship saw the German referee

pairing Bülow/Lübker, who went on to officiate

in the WCh finals in Cairo in 1999.

The final round in Winterthur was conducted

by the Swedish referees Hansson/Olsson,

who twelve years later were to meet

goalkeeper Henning Fritz in the Olympic

final of Athens.

The EHF‘s YAC tournaments were supplemented

in 1994 by the first-time staging

of the Women’s and Men’s Junior European

Championships, which have since been

played every two years, and Youth European

Championships staged in odd years

since1997. In the years 2004 and 2005,

respectively, the tournaments were renamed.

Since 2004, the Men’s 18 and

20 European Championships (men aged

up to 18 and 20, respectively) have been

played in even years and, since 2005, the

Women’s 17 and 19 European Championships

(women aged up to 17 and

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19, respectively) in odd years – always

in addition to the International Handball

Federation’s (IHF) Youth and Junior

World Championships.

There has been not change to the fact

that these YAC tournaments basically offer

a glimpse of the future of handball. This aspect

alone would fill volumes. The Russian

left wing Emilia Turey, for example, provided

a sample of her great potential in 2002,

when she was elected as a member of the

all-star team in the Junior European Championship.

The same year, the Men’s Junior

European Championship All-star team included

back Karol Bielecki (POL), goalkeeper

Boris Ristovski (MD) and the Slovene

players David Spiler and Matjaz Brumen, all

of whom continued to be key handball figures

in their respective countries for many

years to come.

In the Women’s 19 European Championship,

left back Karolina Kudlacz from Poland

was the pre-eminent player. One year

on, in the Women’s17 European Championship

2005, Allison Pineau from France

excelled as playmaker. Another year on,

the Men’s 20 European Championship in

Innsbruck showcased an exceptional vintage

of players: MVP Zarko Sesum (SRB)

was fast-tracked into professional handball

along with All Stars Mikkel Hansen, Henrik

Toft Hansen (both DEN), Martin Strobel,

Uwe Gensheimer (both GER), Ivan Cupic

from Croatia and the Swedish goalkeeper

Johan Sjöstrand.

In 2007, the Women’s 17 European

Championship whisked Norwegian right

back Nora Mørk right onto the stage of

world handball followed, one year later, in

the U18 tournament in Brno, by the German

right back Steffen Fäth and, in the U20

tournament in Romania, the Danish keeper

Niklas Landin Jacobsen. In the Men’s 20

European Championship 2012, finally, the

Spanish right back Alex Dujshebaev and left

back Stipe Mandalinic (CRO) moved into

the limelight.

Among more recent prominent examples

have been the three German Junior

European Champions 2014, Simon Ernst,

Jannik Kohlbacher and Fabian Wiede, who

only two years later won the Men’s 12th

EHF EURO in Poland. In the same year, the

most outstanding high-potential of Austrian

handball, Nikola Bilyk, was voted MVP at

the Men‘s 18 European Championship.

A glance at the All Star nominations of

recent events shows that these provided

reason for joy mostly for Russian and

French fans, but also for supporters of Portugal

and Denmark. The French, for example,

may regard the All Star nominations

of Ludovic Fabregas and Melvin Richardson

(son of Jackson) in the Men’s 18 European

Championship 2014 as a promise of a

bright future. Among the female talent, the

Russians Elizaveta Malashenko (MVP W17

European Championship 2013) and Anna

Vyakhireva (MVP W19 European Championship

2013) caught the public’s eye along

with Portuguese player Monica Sores, the

top scorer of the Women’s 19 European

Championship 2013.

It would only be logical to expect that

these players, who took their first steps on

the big international stage in EHF YAC tournaments,

will evolve into eminent handball

personalities at the senior level in the

near future. And, who knows, there may be

another future world-class player among

them...

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EHF

EUROPEAN

CHAMPIONSHIPS

1992 TO 2016

111


112


113


EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS 1992 TO 2016

MEN’S EUROPEAN

HANDBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

YEAR VENUE WINNER

2016 Poland Germany

2014 Denmark France

2012 Serbia Denmark

2010 Austria France

2008 Norway Denmark

2006 Switzerland France

2004 Slovenia Germany

2002 Sweden Sweden

2000 Croatia Sweden

1998 Italy Sweden

1996 Spain Russia

1994 Portugal Sweden

WOMEN’S EUROPEAN HANDBALL

CHAMPIONSHIP

YEAR VENUE WINNER

2016 Sweden

2014 Hungary/Croatia Norway

2012 Serbia Montenegro

2010 Denmark/Norway Norway

2008 FYR Macedonia Norway

2006 Sweden Norway

2004 Hungary Norway

2002 Denmark Denmark

2000 Romania Hungary

1998 Netherlands Norway

1996 Denmark Denmark

1994 Germany Denmark

MEN’S 20 EUROPEAN

HANDBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

*Men’s Junior European Championship 1996 - 2002

YEAR VENUE WINNER

2016 Denmark Spain

2014 Austria Germany

2012 Serbia Spain

2010 Slovakia Denmark

2008 Romania Denmark

2006 Austria Germany

2004 Latvia Germany

2002 Poland Poland

2000 Greece Yugoslavia

1998 Austria Denmark

1996 Romania Denmark

MEN’S 18 EHF EURO

**Men’s 18 European Handball Championship

*Men’s Youth European Championship 1992 - 2003

YEAR VENUE WINNER

2016 Croatia France

2014 Poland France

2012 Austria Germany

2010 Austria Croatia

2008 Czech Republic Germany

2006 Estonia Croatia

2004 Serbia & Serbia &

Montenegro

Montengro

2003 Slovakia Iceland

2001 Luxembourg Russia

1999 Portugal Hungary

1997 Estonia Sweden

1994 Israel Spain

1992 Switzerland Portugal

MEN’S 18 EUROPEAN

HANDBALL CHAMPIONSHIPS

YEAR VENUE WINNER

2016 BUL/GEO/LIT Hungary

WOMEN’S 19 EUROPEAN

HANDBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

*Women’s Junior European Championship 1996 – 2002

YEAR VENUE WINNER

2015 Spain Denmark

2013 Denmark Russia

2011 Netherlands Denmark

2009 Hungary Norway

2007 Turkey Denmark

2004 Czech Republic Russia

2002 Finland Russia

2000 France Romania

1998 Slovakia Romania

1996 Poland Denmark

WOMEN’S 17 EUROPEAN

HANDBALL CHAMPIONSHIP

*Women’s Youth European Championship 1992 – 2003

YEAR VENUE WINNER

2015 FYR Macedonia Denmark

2013 Poland Sweden

2011 Czech Republic Russia

2009 Serbia Denmark

2007 Slovakia France

2005 Austria Denmark

2003 Russia Russia

2001 Turkey Russia

1999 Germany Romania

1997 Austria Spain

1994 Lithuania Ukraine

1992 Hungary Norway

114


IHF/EHF MEN’S CHALLENGE TROPHY

* Men’s Challenge Trophy 1999 - 2007

YEAR VENUE WINNER

2011 Malta/Ireland Moldova

2009 Malta/Moldova Finland

2007 Luxembourg/Georgia Georgia

2005 Ireland Moldova

2003 Malta Moldova

2001 Latvia Latvia

1999 Cyprus Cyprus

IHF/EHF WOMEN’S CHALLENGE TROPHY

* Women’s Challenge Trophy 2000 - 2007

YEAR VENUE WINNER

2016 Georgia Faroe Islands

2014 Greece Bulgaria

2012 Bulgaria Bulgaria

2010 Israel / Estonia Finland

2008 Cyprus Finland

2006 Bosnia Bosnia

Herzegovina Herzegovina

2004 Italy Italy

2002 Azerbaijan Azerbaijan

2000 Belgium Bosnia Herzegovina

MEN’S BEACH EHF EURO

*Men’s European Beach Handball Championships

YEAR VENUE WINNER

2015 Spain Croatia

2013 Denmark Croatia

2011 Croatia Croatia

2009 Norway Croatia

2007 Italy Russia

2006 Germany Spain

2004 Turkey Russia

2002 Spain Spain

2000 Italy Belarus

WOMEN’S BEACH EHF EURO

*Women’s European Beach Handball Championships

YEAR VENUE WINNER

2015 Spain Hungary

2013 Denmark Hungary

2011 Croatia Croatia

2009 Norway Italy

2007 Italy Croatia

2006 Germany Germany

2004 Turkey Russia

2002 Spain Russia

2000 Italy Ukraine

MEN’S 19 BEACH HANDBALL

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

YEAR VENUE WINNER

2015 Spain Russia

2013 Denmark Hungary

2011 Croatia Croatia

WOMEN’S 19 BEACH HANDBALL

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

YEAR VENUE WINNER

2015 Spain Hungary

2013 Denmark Hungary

2011 Croatia Hungary

MEN’S 18 BEACH HANDBALL

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

YEAR VENUE WINNER

2014 Spain Hungary

2012 Georgia Russia

2008 Hungary Hungary

WOMEN’S 18 BEACH HANDBALL

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

YEAR VENUE WINNER

2014 Spain Hungary

2012 Georgia Hungary

2008 Hungary Hungary

1994 Germany Denmark

MEN’S 16 BEACH HANDBALL

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

YEAR VENUE WINNER

2016 Portugal Spain

WOMEN’S 16 BEACH HANDBALL

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

YEAR VENUE WINNER

2016 Portugal Netherlands

115


117


118


THE CLUB

COMPETITIONS

THE META-

MORPHOSIS

FROM UGLY

DUCKLING TO

FLAGSHIP

EVENT

When, in the summer of 1993, the EHF took over the task of organising

the club competitions, things looked pretty dismal: marketing was

virtually non-existent, the sports-political situation was sensitive.

The beginnings were hence complex, but a number of cautious reforms

have since turned the Champions League and the EHF Cup into

premium products of club handball. Today, the VELUX EHF FINAL4 is

the event pulling the largest crowds in European handball.

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CLUB COMPETITIONS

“The thrill got bigger

and bigger. Every year

the VELUX EHF FINAL4

becomes a melting pot

for the world of handball

and LANXESS arena welcomes

the ‘who‘s who’

of the sport”

Jean Brihault at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne (2016)

124


When, at the VELUX EHF

FINAL4 2016, the last

ball had landed in the

net, Julen Aguinagalde,

who had scored

the goal, dived right into the goal and

grabbed the ball. The Spanish pivot from

KS Vive Tauron Kielce obviously wanted to

get hold of an item to keep as a souvenir.

He was fully aware that this was a historical

moment. And indeed, the way the VELUX

EHF Champions League 2016 final unfolded

at Cologne’s LANXESS arena seemed

so removed from real life that without

such a piece of evidence handball historians

might one day come to the conclusion

it never really happened.

It was a tournament that all handball

fans will remember for a long time to

come. On the very first day of the VELUX

EHF FINAL4, in the first semi-final match

Kielce vs. Paris St. Germain, the winner

was determined only in the last few seconds

of the game. The second match

even went into extra time, with MVM

Veszprém finally gaining the upper hand

over THW Kiel. The match for the third

place played on the finals day likewise had

20,000 fans holding their breaths. And

then there was this final match, which

left fans simply flabbergasted as they

watched Kielce annihilating Veszprém’s

nine-goal lead, then the lead changing

repeatedly in extra time, and the winner

of the world’s most important club

event being finally determined by sevenmetre

throws.

This was fantastic handball – not only because

it was played at the highest level of

performance, but because it also revealed

the mental obstacles that had to be overcome

and showed the efforts involved

in scoring such a victory, all within a very

narrow time span. “The thrill got bigger

and bigger,” as EHF President Jean Brihault

finally summed it up. Simply unique, however,

was the atmosphere among the spectators,

who had turned the tournament

into a place where all of European handball

wanted to be. Brihault: “Every year the VE-

LUX EHF FINAL4 becomes a melting pot

for the world of handball and LANXESS

arena welcomes the ‘who’s who’ of the

sport.”

The event has evolved into a work of

art composed of many facets. The VELUX

EHF FINAL4 has grown into one of the top

events on the European sports calendar.

“The fan groups do not need to be separated

by police or security – they celebrate

a big party together, so everybody contributes

to this event,” said Brihault. EHF Secretary

General Michael Wiederer shares

125


In pure sporting terms, the EHF Champions

League was dominated by two great teams

throughout the 1990s. In the women’s

competitions, it was the multiple Austrian

champion HYPO Niederösterreich, personified

by its manager and coach Gunnar

126


Prokop. Between 1989 and 2000, HYPO

was eight-time winner of the world’s most

prestigious club title, including four times

the EHF Champions League title. This

made HYPO the most successful women’s

team in handball history.

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CLUB COMPETITIONS

Brihault’s general impressions of the

event: “Every time I land in Cologne prior

to the start of the tournament, the tension

is still rising. There is no VELUX EHF FI-

NAL4 routine, but annual challenges. But

it makes things easier when you have the

same partners every year, so you have mutual

control of the event.”

International handball celebrities have

abundantly praised the event. “It is always

great to be back in Cologne. The atmosphere

is simply brilliant; the fans go off like

fireworks in the stands. This is handball at

its best,” said Swedish handball star Stefan

Lövgren, who had previously served

as an ambassador of the event. Francois

Xavier Houlet, a former French international

and EHF Cup winner with Gummersbach,

works together with Daniel Saric

and praises the VELUX EHF FINAL4: “This

is the temple of handball.” Other famed

former pros, among them Marcin Lijewski,

Iker Romero and VELUX testimonial

Lars Christiansen, also gave the event full

marks. “This atmosphere is great, amazing,”

said Germany’s EHF EURO 2016 hero

Andreas Wolff.

Only three weeks earlier, European

women’s handball had likewise celebrated

a top-level club event. In the Women’s

EHF FINAL4 played in Budapest’s sold-out

Papp Laszlo arena, 12,000 fans had been

treated to thrilling, top-class handball.

There, too, the winner of the Women‘s

EHF Champions League was determined

only by seven-metre throws. The title

finally went to the Romanian champion

CSM Bucuresti, who beat Györi Audi ETO

KC 29-26. Celebrated players were CSM

goalkeeper Jelena Grubic, who was voted

MVP of the tournament, and the Swedish

goal-getter Isabell Gulldén.

For EHF Secretary General Michael

Wiederer, the combination of tournament,

organisation and venue is already a

story of success. “Three years ago we were

asked by the top clubs of European women’s

handball to create an event like we did

with the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne,”

he recalled in Budapest. And the EHF went

the same way with the pinnacle event of

women’s club handball as they did with the

male counterparts. “We had a premiere in

Budapest and then extended the contract

for two more years. Currently we are in the

state of negotiations with the Hungarian

Handball Federation as the organiser of

the event. They would like to have a longterm

contract,” said Wiederer.

Anyone who looks today at the gigantic

scope of these final tournaments, at

the many shows and entertainment of-

128


fers around the playing court, at the large

crowds in the stands and at the dedication

and enthusiasm with which the athletes

work throughout the season to get to the

place of their desires, can hardly image

how modest and complex the beginnings

of the European Cup were; how hard and

rocky the road was that led to this pinnacle

event and that started with the first official

game in Skopje on 25 August 1993,

at 8.15 p.m., under the auspices of a still

young European Handball Federation. In

the elimination round of the Women’s

Champions Cup, the first whistle was

blown by the referee almost “in private“.

The match was played by the Macedonian

club RK Djorce Petrov Skopje versus the

Bulgarian club Lokosport Plovdiv (34-17).

The referees Klucso/Lekrinszki were from

Hungary.

That this dynamic development has

been anything but unremarkable is underlined

by the history of club competitions

in the era before the EHF’s foundation in

1991. The idea of staging such a tournament

had already been voiced in 1937,

when handball magazines in Austria and

Germany called for a “Mitropa Cup for

handball” modelled on the then popular

precursor of the football European Cup.

“What about a Central European cup

for club teams?” – This was the question

raised by Deutsche Handball-Zeitung

when asked what their wishes were for the

year of 1952.

When UEFA, the Union of European

Football Associations, launched their

European Cup in 1955, handball soon

followed suit – both competitions were

the result of an initiative started by the

French sports magazine L’Equipe. The European

Cup of National Champions, as it

was called then, was indeed quite popular

at a number of venues. It was obvious,

however, that the International Handball

Federation (IHF) had problems with the

long-term marketing of the competition

to potential sponsors or TV partners and

with raising its popularity continuously in

countries outside Germany. “One should

not overestimate the volume of revenues

that can be generated by European Cup

games,” said IHF Director Friedhelm Peppmeier

in 1983. “If you don’t have German

contenders in the finals, revenues will

go down to zero due to a lack of interest in

other countries.”

After the EHF had been founded in November

1991, it soon became clear that

the European Cup would also be organised

under the auspices of the new umbrella

organisation. The global IHF had lost any

interest in club competitions, as IHF Manag-

129


CLUB COMPETITIONS

130


“Every time I land in

Cologne prior to the start

of the tournament, the

tension is still rising. There is

no VELUX EHF FINAL4

routine, but annual

challenges. But it makes

things easier when you have

the same partners every

year, so you have mutual

control of the event“

Michael Wiederer at the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne (2016)

131


CLUB COMPETITIONS

“One should

not overestimate

the volume of

revenues that can

be generated

by European Cup

games. If you

don’t have German

contenders

in the finals,

revenues will go

down to zero due

to a lack of

interest in other

countries”

IHF Managing Director

Friedhelm Peppmeier (1983) in Poland

ing Director Frank Birkefeld announced in

Vienna in November 1992: “I am glad we

are rid of them”. IHF Secretary General Raymond

Hahn likewise made it known that

the European Cup had only created problems

and headaches for the worldwide

federation. The EHF finally agreed with the

International Handball Federation that it

would take charge of club competitions

only from the 1993-94 season onwards,

as it had started operating as a federation

only as of 1 August 1992.

Even before the first draw was held in Vienna,

the EHF administration had already

decided to make some major changes to

the old IHF playing format. The system

under which preliminary qualifications

were only held on a regional basis was

terminated. Responsibility for the new

seeding system was entrusted to the Swiss

Markus Glaser. He had been recruited by

EHF Secretary General Wiederer from

March 1993 as he had already gathered

valuable experience in organising the

European Cup for the global federation.

How Glaser went about developing this

ew seeding system is one of the great legends

of early EHF history as he “built” the

format while on his way to holiday in the

United States. Sitting on the airplane he

worked out the key factors and details

of the seeding list and, upon arrival, sent

them by fax to the EHF Office in Vienna.

While the way in which this “first-ever

ranking” was calculated has meanwhile

been modified a couple of times,

“the format has basically survived to this

very day,” according to Glaser.

In the initial years, when the European

Cup was organised by the EHF, the biggest

challenges were attributable to the Balkan

wars. “At that time, many matches in Croatia

had to be moved to different venues as

the situation was simply too dangerous,”

Glaser said. “The EHF simply could not

132


Before the EHF staged the first draw for

European Cup matches on 10 August

1993, the EHF Congress 1993 held in

Antwerp had taken the first fundamental

decisions regulating club competitions.

The IHF Cup played since 1981 was renamed

EHF Cup from the 1993-94 season

onwards. In order to resolve potential calendar

problems, the EHF created the “City

Cup” (for teams placed third in national

leagues) as a fourth club competition beside

the Cupwinners’ European Cup and

the competition of national champions –

previously, many major leagues, among

them most prominently Germany’s Bundesliga,

had asked for additional places

in the European Cup. The European Cup

of National Champions was likewise restructured

and renamed: starting from

the group phase of the year 1993-94,

the competition, played by a total of eight

teams in two groups of four, was henceforth

called the “Champions League”.

risk exposing spectators and players to

bombing or shelling.” It took many years

for the conflicts in the territory of former

Yugoslavia to be finally resolved politically

and peace to be restored in a way that

made it possible to come to sensible arrangements

also where sports were concerned.

Unrestricted drawing had always

been one of the key elements of EHF competitions,

but resulted in numerous “problem

matches”, some of which had to be

played on neutral ground.

The legacy that the EHF had accepted

by taking over the European Cup competitions

from the International Handball

Federation was also challenging and complex

in many respects. Up until that date,

marketing activities had hardly been undertaken.

The EHF also had to start from

scratch again organisationally, as the political

and geographical changes in the East

of Europe had resulted in a new political

landscape. And then there were the warlike

events in the Balkans. The European

Cup had been smashed to pieces, not

only metaphorically speaking. It is also

all the more remarkable that the club

competition have evolved into beacon

events such as the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in

Cologne and the Women’s EHF FINAL4 in

Budapest.

Naturally, with the creation of their

Champions League, the EHF did model

some elements from big brother football,

but in one specific point, the handballers

were way ahead of the footballers: from the

very beginning, there was an equal Women’s

Champions League. The first playing

system, which has until today been constantly

updated and necessarily modified,

saw 32 national champions play in two KO

rounds, before eight teams would move on

to the Group Phase playing a round-robin

system against each other in both men’s

and women’s competitions. Previously,

there were only knock-out rounds. The

winner of the Group Phase then made it

to the final. In the men’s competition, the

first finalists were Teka Santander (Spain)

and ABC Braga (Portugal). In the women’s

competition, it was a repeat of the National

Champions finals with HYPO Niederösterreich

playing against Vasas Budapest.

In the first year in particular, the EHF, of

course, had to overcome major start-up

problems. As the administrative system

was not up and running yet, the Federation

refrained from sending delegates in

the inaugural season. Moreover, the Office

in Vienna was facing substantial technical

problems in issuing players’ passports as

there were quite a few cases in which the

nationalities of the successor states of the

133


CLUB COMPETITIONS

“It is always

great to be back

in Cologne.

The atmosphere

is simply brilliant;

the fans go off

like fireworks in

the stands. This is

handball at

its best”

Stefan Lövgren at the VELUX EHF

FINAL4 in Cologne (2016)

former Yugoslavia were hard to define. But

a start had been made.

The first playing system survived the first

three seasons up to and including 1995-

96, in both the men’s and the women’s

competitions. Yet even at this early stage,

the huge sporting and economic potential

of the Men’s Champions League already

started to emerge. The Croatian champion

Badel Zagreb, for example, played

all group matches and even the home

match of the 1995 Champions League

final against winner Bidasoa Irun in soldout

arenas, attracting crowds of 12,000

spectators. For German champion THW

Kiel, the Champions League was likewise

good business, said jubilant manager Uwe

Schwenker. Schwenker happily raked in

some 600,000 Deutschmark in revenues

for the club, as the three home matches

against Irun, OM Vitrolles and Dukla

Prague were nearly sold out.

Due to smaller arena capacities and the

lesser appeal of women’s handball in the

relevant markets, revenues from ticket

sales did not reach similar levels in the

134


135


CLUB COMPETITIONS

“The Champions League brings the

elite clubs of our continent together

and the other European Cup

competitions also guarantee top

European events. However, as the

conditions for club matches differ

tremendously from country to

country, it is extremely difficult to

find a competition system that suits

the needs and capacity of everybody”

EHF President Staffan Holmqvist (2002)

Women‘s Champions League, as had in fact

been expected. Indications of the big potential

yet to be tapped, though, were visible

in the finals of the Women’s EHF Cup

1994, when the Danish club Viborg HK attracted

more than 5,000 supporters in the

first leg of the final against the Hungarian

players of DVSC Debrecen.

In pure sporting terms, the EHF Champions

League was dominated by two great

teams throughout the 1990s. In the women’s

competitions, it was the multiple Austrian

champion HYPO Niederösterreich,

personified by its manager and coach Gunnar

Prokop. Between 1989 and 2000,

HYPO was eight-time winner of the world’s

most prestigious club title, including four

times the EHF Champions League title. This

made HYPO the most successful women’s

team in handball history.

Prokop’s counterpart in men’s club handball

was the Spanish star coach Valero Rivera,

who at FC Barcelona had first started

and then dominated a great era. The glorious

Catalans continued the Spaniards’ winning

streak in 1996 and, up to 2000, took

the title five times running. The high social

esteem that handball players enjoyed at

the time was highlighted by the attendance

of King Juan Carlos of Spain at the second

leg of the final versus Zagreb at Palau Blaugrana

in 1999. That year, Inaki Urdangarin,

the King’s future son in law, was among the

key protagonists of the team along with

left wing Xavier O’Callaghan, pivot Andrei

Xepkin and goalkeeper David Barrufet.

FC Barcelona was still the dominant

team when the EHF Champions League

playing system was first reformed for both

the women‘s and the men‘s events before

the 1996-97 season. The revised system

provided for four groups of four teams

each, not all of which had to play qualifying

matches to enter the group phase (teams

that were big league champions were seeded).

While under the previous system only

the group winners had advanced to the

finals, from then on, the two top teams of

each group went on to play in the quarter-finals,

which, like the further rounds,

were played as knock-out matches. This

resulted in a significant expansion of the

Champions League.

136


The next major modification of the European

Cup system was adopted by the

EHF for the 2000-01 season. Henceforth,

all champions of the seven leading nations

were qualified directly for the group

phase of the Men’s Champions League.

The teams of the nations placed 8 to 15

were given guaranteed access to the second

round. The system adopted for the

Women‘s Champions League proved truly

groundbreaking and forward-looking:

here, the EHF allowed the seven nations

leading the EHF ranking to enter two teams

each. In this respect, the women were true

pioneers, being three years ahead of the

men. In the EHF Cup (Men’s and Women’s),

the seven leading nations were given

the right to enter two teams each. Only

the playing format of the Cupwinners’ Cup

remained unchanged.

At the same time, the Challenge Cup

was introduced to replace the City Cup.

This tournament has been designed for

nations unable to obtain the relevant

number of Champions League or EHF

Cup places. The teams from the federations

ranked 1 to 7 do not participate in

the Challenge Cup. The EHF deliberately

sought to promote competitions for clubs

from nations that were unable to match

the standards of those with a strong handball

culture. This reform also proved beneficial,

as the past 16 years have impressively

shown.

By 2000, all club competition mechanisms

were running smoothly, but marketing

of the European Cup competitions,

including the Champions League, was still

inadequate. In contrast to the EHF EUROs,

the EHF had failed to find a partner for centralised

marketing of the European Cup

competitions in 1993-94. The rights for

marketing EHF Champions League matches

and other competitions rested with

the EHF, of course. Yet, initially, it proved

impossible to achieve a major breakthrough

in marketing television rights for

the matches. What happened instead was

a constant struggle for more viewers and

revenues, even though European handball

was increasingly gaining ground compared

with other team sports.

The idea of having the EHF Champions

League marketed centrally by a strong

partner, like the EHF EUROs, had already

been placed on the agenda of the 2000

EHF Congress in Tel Aviv. A motion to

this effect was intensely debated before

centralised marketing of the Men’s and

the Women’s Champions Leagues was finally

adopted with effect from the 2001-

02 season. “A new partnership has been

signed with the company Sponsor Service

to optimise the marketing of the product

(EHF Annual Report 2000).

The project was launched initially for

the Men’s Champions League. One year

later, EHF President Staffan Holmqvist

announced that the scheme was to be

extended to the Women’s Champions

League. “Still there is a lot of work to be

done before everything is perfect. The EHF

will also work to create such a tournament

for women as soon as possible and for the

future to get similar conditions in all the

European Cup Tournaments. However,

everybody must be aware that this is a very

difficult task.”

At the end, however, this partnership

with the Norwegian agency was not successful

financially, and the relationship

was therefore terminated in 2003, when

the agency ran into financial problems.

Nonetheless, in the 2001-02 season,

TV viewership in the Men’s Champions

League rose to almost 600 million. Most

importantly, the collaboration produced

some important initial momentum for the

development of the Champions League’s

corporate identity. With the “EHF Champions

League” a new brand was created as a

first step towards the brand-building process.

At the same time, the playing system

was modified substantially. The reform

process had started already at Vösendorf

near Vienna in November 2001, when

the future of the Champions League was

on the agenda of the European Handball

Vision Forum held to mark the EHF’s tenth

anniversary. The complexity of the task of

bringing together divergent interests was

hinted at by EHF President Holmqvist in

2002: “The Champions League brings the

elite clubs of our continent together and

the other European Cup competitions also

guarantee top European events. However,

as the conditions for club matches differ

137


138


“The new look

Champions

League, with its

fresh and unified

approach is

a huge step

for European

handball”

EHF President Tor Lian

comments the new brand (2006)

tremendously from country to country, it

is extremely difficult to find a competition

system that suits the needs and capacity of

everybody. Despite the fact that a lot of improvements

have been made in this area, a

lot work still remains to be done.”

The reform was finally implemented

after a Champions League Convention

in February 2003. Based on this convention,

the EHF Executive resolved in March

2003 that, from the 2003-04 season

onwards, only national champions would

be eligible to play in the Men’s Champions

League. As this rule guaranteed or in

any case greatly facilitated access to the

EHF Champions League for high-calibre

brands such as FC Barcelona or THW Kiel,

all stakeholders gained more planning security.

Henceforth, the federations of major national

leagues such as Bundesliga or Asobal,

which held top places in the EHF ranking,

were allowed to enter a maximum of

three or two clubs in the EHF Champions

League. At the same time, the number of

contenders in the group phase was raised

to 32, who played in eight groups of four

to determine the teams playing in the last

sixteen. The group phase alone thus saw

96 matches and, due to the newly introduced

last sixteen round, the number of

knock-out matches increased to 30.

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CLUB COMPETITIONS

140


“In Cologne, we are the

organiser and work with

local partners with whom

we have developed a very

trusting relationship

over the years. We also

have full control of entertainment

inside and

outside the arena.

This enables us to really

shape this event”

David Szlezak, Managing Director of EHF Marketing (2016)

141


CLUB COMPETITIONS

142


“This option

opens marketing

potentials for the

future and allows

more nations to

take part in

this event. A consequence

also

coupled with this

system is the fact

that more elite

clubs from top

handball nations

can take part in

the Champions

League in the

future”

EHF President Holmqvist about the new

Champions League system (2003)

“With this new format we want to open

this high-class competition to even more

nations than in the past. We believe that

this will add yet another degree of excitement,”

the EHF said in a communication.

“This option opens marketing potentials

for the future and allows more nations

to take part in this event. A consequence

also coupled with this system is the fact

that more elite clubs from top handball

nations can take part in the Champions

League in the future,” said EHF President

Holmqvist.´

From that date onwards, each group

featured at least one elite team, which

further increased the attractiveness of

this top event. Initially, Germany and

Spain each entered three teams in the

EHF Champions League. Two entrants

each came from Denmark, Hungary,

Croatia and Slovenia, plus nine national

champions and qualified teams. “Going

down this road was the obvious thing to

do,” said Uwe Schwenker, at that time

manager of THW Kiel. Other functionaries

such as Csaba Hajnal (Veszprém)

also regarded the new format as a logical

development.

The new system also increased the

sporting quality of the tournament, which

from then on saw several representatives

of high-class leagues vying for the title in

the most valuable club handball competition.

One example: in the 2003-04 series,

SG Flensburg-Handewitt was among the

best clubs in the world when they scored

double victory in Germany and entered

the Champions League finals. Under

the old system, SG would not even

have been allowed to take part in the

event as the previous year’s runners-up

champion. EHF President Holmqvist

thanked all those who had contributed

to the reforms: “These were a result of intensive

talks with clubs, federations and

league representatives to find a common

route for the future. The EHF has always

placed great emphasis and importance on

club completions and their development,

which was the reason behind the introduction

of a Champions League Convention.”

The collective efforts were soon

crowned by success. In the 2003-04 season,

the Men’s Champions League broke

all records. More than half a million spectators

flooded into the arenas, more than

330 TV broadcasts were registered, and

the clubs won more than half a million

euro in prize money (the women close

to 400,000 euro). The EHF Cup even attracted

more than 700,000 spectators,

almost three times as many as in the

1999-00 season.

These figures, of course, were attributable

to the fact that the teams playing in

the EHF Men‘s Champions League were

more evenly matched than ever before.

In the spring of 2002, the new champion

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CLUB COMPETITIONS

“The EHF Cup in this novel form has

proven itself, and for the clubs it is

an attractive stepping stone to the

Champions League. This is our new

success story. The new competition

has now found its own place in the

handball landscape; it now has its

own identity, its own place next to

the VELUX EHF Champions League”

EHF President Jean Brihault at the EHF Cup Finals in Nantes (2016)

SC Magdeburg with their star player Olafur

Stefannson ended the predominance of

the Spanish clubs, which had continued

until 2001 (Portland San Antonio). They

were succeeded by the French champion

HB Montpellier, whose triumph in 2003

saw the rise of new star Nikola Karabatic.

Finally, in 2004, RK Pivovarna Lasko Celje

was the first Slovenian champion to gain

victory in the world‘s more prestigious

tournament.

Quotes from the victorious pros illustrate

the great value that the athletes were

meanwhile attaching to this title. “Winning

the Champions League is like taking

Olympic gold with the national team,”

said French goalkeeper Christian Gaudin

after winning the title with Magdeburg.

“This is a dream come true, it’s impossible

to put into words what I’m feeling,” said

Olafur Stefansson, when in 2009 he lifted

the trophy for the fourth time with BM

Ciudad Real.

For the women, winning the Champions

League was likewise the ultimate that an

athlete could aspire to. “This was a massive

match with an atmosphere I’ve never

experienced before. This is the greatest

moment in my wohle career!” said German

pivot Anja Althaus after her triumph

with Viborg HK in 2009. In the women’s

tournament, the development was basically

similar to the men’s. When the

era of HYPO Niederösterreich had ended,

a struggle ensued between the increasingly

strong Scandinavian clubs and

the highly ambitious clubs from Eastern

Europe. Post-2000, the Danish clubs

Slagelse and Viborg won the Women‘s

Champions League five times, the Slovenian

champion Ljubljana, the Hungarian

champion Györ and the Montenegrin

champion Budocnost Podgorica two times

each.

The first assessment of the reform of the

Men’s Champions League was in any case

quite positive. “The new playing system in

the Men’s Champions League brought a

number of new countries and TV stations

to the competition. The EHF is now doing

part of the Champions League marketing

’in house‘ and has significantly improved

the hours of TV-broadcasting. At the same

time, relations with new partners were created

in order to develop the product contin-

144


General Michael Wiederer said in January

2005. “The Champions League has been

working since we started to take care of TV

marketing ourselves. With currently 35 TV

agreements in 32 participating countries

we have seen enormous growth.”

The positive experiences with in-house

marketing finally prompted EHF officers

around President Tor Lian and Secretary

General Michael Wiederer to institutionalise

marketing in a newly started subsidiary.

In July 2005, the EHF launched a new company

under the name of EHF Marketing,

which has been focusing primarily on the

product development of the European club

competitions, with the EHF Handball

Champions League on the business agenda

in the initial phase. Decisive steps were

taken as early as the second half of 2005,

with the introduction of a TV Highlight

Magazine and greater TV coverage around

Europe.

uously in all aspects,“ (EHF Annual Report

2004). “There are still many challenges to

face, but the current positive development

proves that it is going in the right direction.”

Among the challenges was still marketing.

Since 2003-04, the EHF had done its own

marketing of EHF Champions League TV

rights and, partly, also marketing of perimeter

and floor advertising, and successfully so.

Prior to the 2003-04 season, the EHF had

started the by now long-standing partnership

with insurer Uniqa and, prior to the

2006-07 season, entered into a partnership

with sports floor manufacturer Gerflor,

which has likewise continued to date.

For the 2004-05 season, the EHF again

registered new viewer records. According

to an analysis of TV audiences in eleven

European countries, the EHF’s premium

product EHF Champions League reached

more than 350 million viewers. This was

also the result of the media strategy aimed

at producing moving pictures and delivering

them through multiple channels.

“Competing sharply with volleyball and

basketball, handball has carved out for itself

a very good position,” EHF Secretary

Further activities in 2005 included the

presentation of the new logos for the EHF

Cup, Cup Winners’ Cup and Challenge Cup

competitions. Trailblazing was the development

of a new look for the Champions

League and of additional key tools for staging

this top event in the summer of 2006.

“The new look Champions League, with its

fresh and unified approach is a huge step

for European handball,” EHF President Tor

Lian was pleased to announce. The Annual

Report 2006 stated: “EHF Marketing,

together with its partners, have worked

hard with the Champions League clubs to

present the Champions League with a new

look. Alongside the newly developed Corporate

Event Identity, the Regulations for

the Men’s Champions League have also

been newly drawn up, going into greater

detail in the event management side of the

competition. A Broadcaster Manual and

the selection of a pool of EHF Marketing Supervisors

to support both the clubs and the

marketing and TV partners at the matches

will give a further boost to the product.”

A unique floor design supplied by partner

firm Gerflor also contributed to the

new look. “This will give the Men’s Champions

League a universal look with its ‘black

and blue lagoon’ colours, taking the Men’s

Champions League into a new generation,”

as reported in the EHF Annual Report

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CLUB COMPETITIONS

“The signing of Stefan

Lövgren as FINAL4 ambassador,

the communication

strategy prior to

the event, the flags and

banners in the City of Cologne,

the production of

the trophy by a renowned

artist and its completion

and presentation in the

presence

of the audience all

contributed to the

build-up of an extreme

level of expectations

and interest”

EHF President Tor Lian after the first FINAL4 event (2010)

146


147


148


“It was the purely Spanish 2011

final pitting Barcelona against Ciudad

Real that broke the ice. When 19,600

spectators were standing up in the

last minute of the final to celebrate

both teams it was for all to see that

this was a handball event, not a home

event. Today, the VELUX EHF

Champions League has reached

a level where the question of

which club will play in the FINAL4

no longer matters”

EHF Secretary General Michael Wiederer (2016)

2006. Thanks to the standardised floor,

TV viewers can now tell immediately that

they are watching a Champions League

match.

Since 2002, all details relating to the organisation

of European Cup competitions

have been discussed in obligatory workshops

attended by the stakeholders. “The

aim of this workshop was to provide all

teams with an update of information concerning

the situation of TV rights as well as

marketing activities“ (source: EHF Annual

Report 2002). “Teams were provided

with all necessary material concerning the

2002-03 competition and the occasion

gave the team representatives the opportunity

to make the first organisational

arrangements with each other.” Since

2006, clubs and media partners have been

supported at each venue and match by

an EHF Marketing Supervisor, who has

been helping with the implementation of

manuals and rules.

Other things also developed beautifully.

Prior to the Men’s Champions

League 2005-06 season, the EBU

produced the first TV signal for the

draw, which was held as a formal affair

at the Museum of Catalan History

in Barcelona. Since then, live streaming

has been a media standard. When, on

29 June 2007, the EHF hosted a Champions

League gala entitled “Celebrate the

Passion” at Vienna’s Uniqa Tower to mark

its 15th anniversary, officers and 300

honorary guests, among them the stars

Bojana Popovic and Nikola Karabatic, were

able to look back on the fantastic development

that the tournament had taken.

In the previous season, more than

210 million TV viewers had watched the

Champions League matches. Of the Men’s

Champions League matches, 524 hours

were televised; of the Women‘s Champions

League matches, which were still

played in four groups of four teams each

149


CLUB COMPETITIONS

150


“This was a

massive match

with an atmosphere

I’ve never

experienced

before. This is

the greatest

moment in my

whole career!”

German Pivot Anja Althaus after

winning the EHF Champions League

with Viborg HK (2009)

(with much fewer matches), more than

230 hours. Especially the partnership with

the Eurosport TV channel sent viewership

records tumbling. The second leg of the

Men’s Champions League 2007 – THW

Kiel vs. SG Flensburg-Handewitt – had

been covered by twelve cameras. In the

2006-07 season, the ehfcl.com website

published more than 500 pieces on the

Men‘s Champions League and more than

300 on the women’s tournament. As a

new feature from 2007 onwards, a standard

musical intro has been played at the

start of all Champions League games: the

“Anthem of the Champions”.

Two years later, EHF Marketing reported

that significantly more than 30 European

TV channels were broadcasting the games

of the Women‘s and the Men‘s Champions

Leagues. Another milestone in terms of

global reach was the partnership entered

into with the Dubai Sports TV channel in

2009. This channel guaranteed to bring

European club handball to more than 100

million households in the Middle East.

In the meantime, the EHF Champions

League playing format was updated once

again by introducing a main round from

the 2007-08 season onwards. In the

Women’s Champions League, the two

top teams of each group of four qualified

151


CLUB COMPETITIONS

for the main round, which was played in

two groups of four, with the winner finally

to be determined by knock-out matches

in the semi-finals and finals rounds. This

system survived until the 2013-14 season.

In the men’s competition, the best 16

teams of the preliminary round advanced

to the main round, which was played by

four groups of four, with only the group

winners entering the semi-finals which,

like the finals, were played as knock-out

matches. In the subsequent year, the EHF

already added a quarter-final after the

main round, which offered those placed

second in their respective groups another

chance to win the title.

The expansion of the EHF Champions

League, however, spelled the end of a competition

that the EHF had created in the

year 1996: the European Club Championships,

which had been open to the winners

of the four European Cup competitions.

The first men’s event hosted by TBV Lemgo,

the winner of the Cup Winners’ Cup

competition, in Bielefeld just before Christmas

1996, was won by FC Barcelona. In

the final tournament (known by that date

as the Champions Trophy) staged in Veszprém

in 2008, victory was taken by BM

Ciudad Real. For the women, the EHF had

organised the first European Club Championship

as early as 1994, with HYPO Niederösterreich

winning in Viborg. The final

event was then also conducted in 2008,

when Champions League winner Zwesda

Zwenigorod won the title at Chekhov.

From the 2015-16 series onwards, the

VELUX EHF Champions League has been

played by two groups of eight in the preliminary

round in close co-ordination with

the clubs, which have meanwhile been

integrated into the EHF organisation (see

chapter on Structure). Now, the two group

winners directly enter the quarter-finals.

Those in places 2 to 6 go on to the last sixteen

where they will encounter two further

clubs, winners from groups C and D. When

the plan for the FINAL4 tournament had

proven successful in the Men’s Champions

League, the EHF launched the same system

in the Women’s Champions League prior

to the 2013-14 season but left the qualification

round with 16 teams (four groups)

in place.

In the years after 2010, the EHF continued

fine-tuning the format of a number

of European Cup competitions. By abolishing

the Men’s Cupwinners’ Cup after

the 2011-12 season, the Federation also

streamlined competitions in the EHF Cup

below the premium product, the EHF

Champions League. As a next step, it was

decided to stage the Men’s EHF Cup finals

likewise in the Final 4 format, at the end

of the 2012-13 season. The inaugural

tournament played in Nantes was won by

Rhein Neckar-Löwen after a dramatic final

against hosts HBC Nantes.

Another major milestone in the Men’s

Champions League was the launch of

the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne in the

2009-10 season. The idea had been conceived

by EHF officers already years earlier

with the objective of developing better

marketing opportunities for the EHF

Champions League but had always been

thwarted by various circumstances. When

the EHF Executive finally adopted the final

tournament in Cologne, it also approved

a new playing system for the preliminary

round. Henceforth, 24 teams were to play

in four groups of six for the places in the last

sixteen, which, like the quarter finals, were

to be played as knock-out matches. The reduction

from 32 to 24 teams streamlined

the event and, thereby, raised the level of

sporting performance.

152


As the 2016 final tournament in Nantes

showed, this new format has also proved

successful. “The EHF Cup in this novel form

has proven itself, and for the clubs it is an

attractive stepping stone to the Champions

League. This is our new success story.

The new competition has now found

its own place in the handball landscape; it

now has its own identity, its own place next

to the VELUX EHF Champions League,”

as outgoing EHF President Jean Brihault

summed it up.

“It seems like we have the EHF Cup almost

on a par now with the Champions

League, it is not a minor competition and

we have the ambition to help it develop

even further. It would therefore be more

or less logical to also merge the Women’s

Cupwinners’ Cup with the EHF Cup as of

the 2016-17 season,” Brihaut said. “Having

seen its success, it now feels natural to

apply the formula to the women’s competition.”

Wiederer stated: “This decision will

strengthen European women’s handball in

general, as more clubs have the chance to

bridge the gap to the current top clubs. To

have a merged competition with a group

phase below the EHF Champions League

will ignite a professionalisation of women’s

clubs all over Europe.”

The most important step in the economic

and sporting evolution of the European

Cup competitions, however, was doubtless

the introduction of the VELUX EHF FI-

NAL4 for the year 2010. How sustainable

and attractive this tournament has been

and still is for the EHF’s partners has been

proven by the partnership with the Danish

VELUX Group, which, when the event was

announced for the year 2010, signed on

as title sponsor of the EHF Champions

League and has since regularly convened

its distribution partners at the Cologne

tournament.

“The decision to stage the tournament

and the choice of Cologne as its venue was

also a big risk, though, for if only 5,000

fans had turned up, the FINAL4 would

have been dead,” EHF Secretary General

Michael Wiederer recalls. Such concerns

proved unfounded, though, as only 200

seats of the huge LANXESS arena remained

vacant when the event was first launched

in 2010. “The signing of Stefan Lövgren

as FINAL4 ambassador, the communication

strategy prior to the event, the flags

and banners in the City of Cologne, the

production of the trophy by a renowned

artist and its completion and presentation

in the presence of the audience all contributed

to the build-up of an extreme level of

expectations and interest,” EHF President

Tor Lian was pleased to note after the first

FINAL4 event.

Another milestone of the VELUX EHF

FINAL4 was the year 2011. The second

153


“Winning the

Champions

League is like

taking Olympic

gold with the

national team”

French goalkeeper Christian Gaudin

after winning the EHF Champions

League with SC Magdeburg (2001)

edition of the event in Cologne disproved

the critics’ main argument that the tournament

would work only if won by a German

club. “It was the purely Spanish 2011

final pitting Barcelona against Ciudad Real

that broke the ice. When 19,600 spectators

were standing up in the last minute

of the final to celebrate both teams it

was for all to see that this was a handball

event, not a home event,” Wiederer recalls.

“Today, the VELUX EHF Champions

League has reached a level where the

question of which club will play in the FI-

NAL4 no longer matters.” This was last

demonstrated in the 2016 VELUX EHF

FINAL4 when, for the first time, the final

was played by two teams that were neither

from Germany nor from Spain – and this

did not make any difference to the atmosphere

in the LANXESS arena.

That the origins of the participating clubs

are meanwhile of almost no relevance at all,

is illustrated by the enormous demand for

tickets. At the 2016 finals weekend, tickets

on sale for the 2017 event were sold

out within hours. The fans have truly embraced

the VELUX EHF FINAL4 as a holistic

experience with bombastic showy elements

before the games, the opening ceremony

on Friday night with fantastic musical

acts and all that comes with it. Cologne has

evolved into a genuine European handball

institution, according to Wiederer. “The FI-

NAL4 is not only a beacon event in sporting

and organisational terms, but has always

been a great meeting place for the world of

handball.”

154


One of its great advantages is the fact

that, in staging the VELUX EHF FINAL4, the

EHF does not have to deal with changing

organising committees, as is the case with

the EHF EUROs. “In Cologne, we are the organiser

and work with local partners with

whom we have developed a very trusting

relationship over the years. We also have

full control of entertainment inside and outside

the arena. This enables us to really

shape this event,” says David Szlezak,

FINAL4 Manager and, since 2016, also

Managing Director of EHF Marketing. “It

is like coming back to a familiar place.

Everyone knows where to find things.

We are not continually confronted with

new situations. Processes can be organised

more easily.” For this reason,

the EHF has extended its agreement

with the LANXESS arena until 2020

and has thus created planning security.

The new format and the EHF’s evaluation

catalogue, which regulates clubs’ participation

in the VELUX EHF Champions

League, have likewise proven helpful,

according to Wiederer. “Many more

games were on an equal level, and

as the system is quite flexible we can

adapt the number of participating teams

if needed. But for the upcoming season

the system will remain completely

the same, then we will do an evaluation.”

The clubs’ response has been very

positive.

With the VELUX EHF FINAL4, the EHF

has reached dimensions that appeared

utopian when it first took control of the

club competitions in 1993. Today, hundreds

of media representatives attend club

handball’s flagship event and TV reach has

become huge. In addition, Cologne has

earned for itself a reputation of being at

the vanguard of professional handball, as

technologies such as goal cameras and instant

replay were tested and implemented

here at a high level for the first time. The

future of European club competitors, epitomised

by the Cologne tournament, is in

any case bright. Wiederer says: “We can

expect another top event in 2017.”

155


156


YES,

WE

CAN!

The development of handball has always been one of the

EHF’s core tasks. In the 1990s, the focus of educational

programmes was initially on the development of young

talent and on coaching and refereeing. Today, the Competence

Academy & Network (CAN) manages a wide

spectrum of activities apart from competitive handball.

157


DEVELOPMENT


“I am very proud of the

support from the EHF

and I am pleased to put

my effort into handball.

The studies were a

great platform of

knowledge presented

by our lecturers”

Graduate Grit Jurack about the EHF Handball Manager Programme (2016)

A

visit by high-ranking dignitaries.

On the evening of

27 May 2016, a delegation

from Brussels paid a visit to

German Sports University

in Cologne. Among the Members of the

European Parliament and the European

Commission was also Bogdan Wenta, the

coach of the Polish Vice World Champion

2007. The political leaders had accepted

an invitation extended by the EHF to attend

a formal ceremony in which the first

graduates of the EHF Handball Manager

Programme were presented with their

certificates on the eve of the VELUX EHF

Final4 2016. “This is a very good and

effective approach based on the dual career

concept,” Wenta said in praise of the new

education programme.

The graduates had passed their tests the

day before. The atmosphere in which EHF

President Jean Brihault opened the ceremony

with a speech sprinkled with humorous

remarks was therefore duly relaxed.

“This study guarantees education and sustainability

in European handball. The original

idea was addressed to us by the clubs

and thanks to the great cooperation we

finally managed to implement these studies.

We are proud of this great cooperation

with the German Sports University,” said

Brihault. Brihault, EHF Secretary General

Michael Wiederer along with Helmut

Höritsch (EHF Competence Academy &

Network) and Carmen Manchado (EHF

Competitions Commission) handed over

the certificates to the group of managers.

Some of the graduates had influenced

handball as players for decades. Together,

Henning Fritz and Holger Glandorf had

won the World Championship in Cologne

in 2007. Grit Jurack was one of the key

figures in the great era of HK Viborg. Other

graduates had a business background and

159


DEVELOPMENT

attended the seminar to further their professional

development, among them the

two Bundesliga managers Benjamin Chatton

(Hanover) und Axel Geerken (Melsungen),

who was named Best Student of the

Year. Emmanuelle Bru (HBC Nantes) has

likewise been working successfully in her

club’s management for quite a long time.

The participants had nothing but praise

for the high-calibre lecturers. “All lecturers

are top of the line in their respective fields,”

Chatton said. “I am very proud of the support

from the EHF and I am pleased to put

my effort into handball. The studies were a

great platform of knowledge presented by

our lecturers,” said Jurack, whose attendance

had been sponsored by the Women‘s

Handball Board.

This was the backdrop against which

the cooperation project between the

EHF and German Sports University had

evolved – to prepare future managers for

their duties in the handball business. Instruction

was provided in five comprehensive

modules: “Economic and legal requirements

of team sports”, “Team sport

governance and handball management”,

“Sport marketing and sponsorship”,

“Financing and licensing” and “Media and

communication training”.

“We started our initiative two years ago

and these studies will bring handball forward

in the future, will professionalise

this sport. The programme, conducted

by the German Sports University, is much

better than the manager programme in

basketball and the one planned in football,”

said Butzeck, director of Forum Club

Handball (FCH), one of the initiators of

the programme, who also attended the

awarding ceremony.

Programme Director Dr. Stefan Walzel

was highly satisfied with the outcome of

the first year of the European Handball

Manager Certificate studies. “We can be

proud of these certificate studies and the

achievement, as handball now is the role

model for other European sports. Those

new European handball managers are the

best ambassadors for the programme. All

graduates did a great job parallel to their

demanding jobs at clubs or federations.”

Meanwhile, word has got round of the

high quality of teaching in Cologne. The

next professional development pro-

160


“This study guarantees education

and sustainability in European handball.

The original idea was addressed

to us by the clubs and thanks to the

great cooperation we finally managed

to implement these studies. We

are proud of this great cooperation

with the German Sports University”

EHF President Jean Brihault about the EHF Handball Manager Programme (2016)

gramme, to be held in English, was immediately

fully booked. Among those who registered

were participants from Finland, the

Netherlands, the Faroe Islands, Montenegro,

Croatia and Denmark, including some

outstanding former professional players

such as the Spaniard Iker Romero (World

Champion 2005) and the Dane Lasse Boesen

(European Championship 2008).

“This shows that demand is substantial and

confirms the need to conduct such education

programmes,” said Helmut Höritsch

from the EHF, like Butzeck and Manchado

a member of the programme’s academic

advisory board.

The manager programme is one of the

numerous and comprehensive activities

that the continental federation has been

pursuing since its foundation with great

dedication and commitment to promote

the sustainable development of handball.

One can understand why the matches of

the EHF EUROs and the club competitions

attract more media interest,” says EHF

Secretary General Michael Wiederer: “But

one thing is clear: programmes designed

to advance and educate young people, to

enhance the professional qualification of

coaches and managers and to address areas

still in need of further development,

such as women‘s handball or beach handball,

are the third essential core task of our

organisation – and must continue to be in

the future.”

The determination and serious efforts

which the EHF has been applying to this development

work is highlighted by a glance

at the institutions that existed in the early

years of the federation’s history. In the federation’s

first Technical Commission, elected

in 1992 as a precursor of today‘s Executive

Committee, Jesus Guerrero Beiztegui

(ESP) was already specifically assigned responsibility

for “Youth, schools sport and

development“. “The EHF will do everything

to raise the popularity of the game and to

promote it in countries in which it is not yet

as well established as in the major handball

nations,” was how EHF Vice President

Hans-Jürgen Hinrichs phrased the umbrella

organisation’s vision at the time.

The first major project initiated by the

EHF in this context was the European Day

of mini handball, staged jointly with the

International Handball Federation across

Europe on 1 October 1994. The aim was

to give six-to-ten-year olds an opportunity

161


“The EHF will do

everything to

raise the popularity

of the game

and to promote

it in countries in

which it is not

yet as well

established as in

the major handball

nations”

Vision of EHF Vice President

Hans-Jürgen Hinrichs in 1992

to get to know and love the sport of handball.

The concrete description of the project

read as follows: “The objective being

pursued is to reach as many children and

their families through a large number of

events (e.g. game days, tournaments, festivals,

camps, etc.). To achieve the widest

possible publicity and media coverage for

the ‘minihandball venture’ it is planned to

get schools, clubs, municipalities, sponsors

and business people – as licensees – involved

in the organisation of these events.”

One of the first working groups set up by

the EHF met in Vienna on 28-29 August

1993 to organise this project. Its members

were: Rinck (FRA), Nilsson Green (SWE, on

behalf of the IHF), Guerrero (ESP), Hjorth

(DEN), Oppermann (GER), Garcia (POR),

Sollberger (SUI) and Helmut Höritsch as

the EHF administration’s responsible project

manager. The project involved the production

of brochures and advertising materials,

the shipment of more than 3500

mini-softballs and training for more than

300 coaches. It proved a major success and

was therefore repeated a number of times.

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DEVELOPMENT

“We can be proud

of these certificate

studies and

the achievement,

as handball now

is the role model

for other European

sports. Those

new European

handball managers

are the best

ambassadors for

the programme”

Stefan Walzel,

German Sports University (2016)

But this was only the beginning. In February

1994, the Working Group on Development

discussed future strategies for

the development of handball outside the

core countries. This working group was

likewise made up of high-calibre experts,

among them Paul Tiedemann, coach of

the 1980 Olympic gold medallists, who

had gathered experience as a coach in

Egypt. The IHF had delegated Kozhukow.

Güntzel, Wiederer and Höritsch took part

on behalf of the EHF administration.

At this meeting, the following themes

were defined as the principal tasks for

the future: teaching aids, promotion materials,

more languages in publications,

international workshops and courses,

minihandball promotion and material,

methods of marketing and advertising,

ball supply, support of sports contacts

with other countries, rule experiment

tournaments.

On the basis of these deliberations,

a variety of activities unfolded steadily

throughout the 1990s. As early as November

1995, the EHF had agreed joint

development programmes with the federations

of Bulgaria, Great Britain, Malta,

Ireland, the Faroe Islands, Turkey,

Albania, Cyprus, Azerbaijan, Armenia,

Georgia, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. A

number of agreements also provided for

attendance of the 1st Marketing Seminar,

held in Vienna from 24 to 26 November

1995, and for computer training.

The goals of the workshop were: “To

find strategies to solve the most pressing

needs in marketing handball in the new

member federations, and to identify the

factors that are instrumental in attracting

financial resources.” Lecturers were Klaus

Anders and Horst Lichtner from CWL (today:

Infront), Erich Epple from UEFA and

Thomas Weber from Deutscher Handballbund

as well as Hans-Jürgen Hinrichs

and Michael Wiederer from the EHF.

164


In the same year, EHF officers showed

a fine sense of things to come when they

issued invitations to the 1st EHF Beach

Handball Experts Seminar held at Marsala/ITA

on 28 August 1996. This early

exchange of ideas, organised jointly with

the Italian Handball Federation, made the

EHF a pioneer of this discipline, which had

been launched in Italy at the initiative of

current EHF member Dejaco. Lecturers

discussed topics such as “EHF Beach Handball

Philosophy” (J. Guerrero), “Course objectives,

Rules, Activities” (T. van Linder)

and “Technical Development of Beachhandball”

(S. Montagni). Workshops were

conducted on rules, refereeing and training

for handball played on sand. The outcome:

the desire to cooperate with the global

federation IHF, the installation of a permanent

working group on beach handball,

the wish for the introduction of binding

rules, the compilation of a beach handball

calendar and the launch of international

tournaments under EHF control.

One year on, the EHF already offered an

enormous range of events and professional

development options. On the fringes of

the 3rd EHF Congress 1996 in Athens, a

workshop on ‘Women in Handball’ was offered,

conducted by Tor Lian (NOR). Working

with the French Handball Federation

(FFHB), the EHF organised the Top Coaches

workshop in Paris-Bercy, which provided

important input for the future training

of coaches. In addition, a workshop was

held on the topic “the EHF Office”, plus a

first Conference for Secretaries General,

the Lecturers’ Course Europe (in Alanya,

Turkey) and two EHF Referees’ Courses Europe

(in Gabrovo, BUL and Nitra, SVK).

In addition, well-attended workshop

groups discussed matters such as “Handball

Marketing in East European Countries”

and “A Concept for Referees Education and

Training”. Equally productive was the “Media”

Working Group held on the fringes of

the 1996 Women’s ECh at Herning with

experts such as TV commentators Gulyas

(HUN, TV), the rights specialist Anders

(SUI, CWL), and the journalists Pfeistlinger

(AIPS/AUT for printed media), Uhl (GER/

photo), and Vom Wege (GER/radio).

Many of the thoughts and ideas that

emerged from this brainstorming session,

in which EHF President Staffan Holmqvist

also took part, are current practice today.

The first EHF/IHF coordination meeting

on beach Handball was held already on 20

October 1996. Since that date, the two

umbrella organisations have been in close

consultation with each other on this matter.

The declared target of holding an EHF

tournament for beach handball as early

as 1997 proved overly ambitious, however.

Since 2000, however, the year that

saw the inaugural tournament at Gaeta/

ITA, EHF Beach Handball European Championships

have been a fixture on the EHF

event calendar. The first European champions

came from Germany (women) and

Spain (men).

In the meantime, a binding set of rules

has been developed and a European

Beach Tour introduced for club teams.

Since 2001, special courses have been

held for beach handball referees and

delegates at regular intervals. Since 2008,

a Beach handball Commission has been

regulating fundamental questions of beach

handball within the EHF. And, of course,

this discipline has gained added attraction

for many young handball players since the

International Olympic Committee (IOC),

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DEVELOPMENT

166


He is a star of indoor handball and

two-times European Champion with

the Danish team. Right wing Hans

Lindberg is also an enthusiastic beach

handball player, as he proved in the

Beach European Championships

2013 at Randers/DEN.

“This sport is great fun,” Lindberg

said at the time. “I need action.”

In the end, he took bronze

with Denmark.

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168


“Within this project

we will establish

a new generation

of referees,

well-educated

and with international

experience

at a young age.

They are ready

for greater challenges!”

EHF President Staffan Holmqvist about

the 1st Young referee project (2001)

in consultation with the IHF, decided to include

beach handball in the programme of

the Youth Olympic Games 2018 in Buenos

Aires, replacing indoor handball. This history

of beach handball to date in any case

underlines that the EHF was extremely forward-looking

in thought and action when it

took its first look at this discipline in 1996.

The idea of joining forces with academics

to find answers to specific questions concerning

the ongoing development of handball

and to explore some aspects in greater

depth had in fact been conceived even

before the EHF Handball Manager event

in Cologne. It was in March 1997 that the

EHF started a close collaboration with the

University of Gdansk to study a variety of

issues. “The partnership mainly focuses on

scientific research and development work

in the field of handball methods and training”

(source: EHF Annual Report 1997).

“One of the possible areas of cooperation

with the University Gdansk could be: The

development and adoption of a computerized

statistic system for match observations

have been used in the 1996 Women’s

Junior ECh in POL.“ In addition, projects

were pursued that aimed at the installation

of a professional database for the European

Championships and the capture of

key parameters for use by the media.

Another major milestone in structuring

the training of coaches within the EHF was

what in 2000 was called the Rinck Convention.

The starting point of considerations

seeking to harmonise coach training in Europe

and to create multiple qualification

categories was the “Coach meets Coach”

EHF seminar held at Bressanone (ITA)

from 6 to 7 June 1998, during the final

weekend of the 3rd Men‘s EURO 1998.

On that occasion, lectures were given by

experts like Manfred Prause (EHF Competitions)

on Rule Changes, by Antoine David

(FRA) on Tactic Tools, by Hans Holdhaus

(AUT) on Anti-doping Measures and by Dirk

Jännichen (GER) on New Media. Among

the participants were renowned coaches

like Velimir Kljaic, Jiri Kekrt, Juan de Dios

Roman Seco, Daniel Costantini, Heiner

Brand, Sandor Vass, Lino Cervar, Vladimir

Maximov, Bengt Johansson and Zoran

Zivkovic, to name just a few.

As a follow-up event, a European Coaches

Symposium was held at the 4th EHF Men‘s

EURO 2000 in Zagreb. The idea of a European

License for coaches was finally institutionalised

at the highest level in Gdansk,

on 27-28 October 2000, through the

adoption of the Convention on the Mutual

Recognition of Coaches Education, known

as to as the Rinck Convention, named after

Claude Rinck (FRA), later on an honorary

member of the EHF, who as Chair of

the Methods Commission had been one of

the key promoters of this convention. Even

at that early date, the agenda already featured

topics such as “Physiology”, “Technical

preparation” and “Measurements and

Evaluation”.

This convention created the basis of a

modular European coach training programme.

The highest level that can be attained

is the EHF Master Coach. Since 2001,

courses leading to this qualification have

been conducted at regular intervals. Initially,

only six member federations signed

the Rinck Convention. Therefore, the first

Master Coaches certified in 2001 only came

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DEVELOPMENT

170


“The EHF Competence Academy

& Network was established

as an educational

service centre for EHF Member

Federations in order to develop

and deliver sport specific

educational and training

programmes. Competences

are offered by making use of

national and international

handball experts, external

lecturers from sports science,

medicine, other sports, business

(marketing, equipment

suppliers) and media (press,

TV, internet) as well as e-learning,

blended learning and

interdisciplinary courses of

various duration”

EHF Coordinator

Helmut Höritsch

171


“We started our

initiative two

years ago and

these studies will

bring handball

forward in the future,

will professionalise

this sport.

The programme,

conducted by the

German Sports

University, is

much better than

the manager

programme in

basketball and

the one planned

in football”

Gerd Butzeck, managing director

of Forum Club Handball (2016)

from the Czech Republic, Denmark, Germany,

France, Hungary and Russia, among them

celebrities such as Heiner Brand, Michal

Barda, Frantisek Taborsky, Lajos Mocsai,

Vladimir Maximov, Daniel Costantini, Patrice

Canayer and Olivier Krumbholz

Additional EHF member federations soon

followed suit. Today, the coach education

programme leading to the Master Coach as

the highest qualification comprises three

different modules and is generally recog-


nised and accepted owing to its superior

quality. “The courses were quite tough and

the Master paper quite a challenge. I was

one of the youngest candidates, alongside

well-known names such as Dagur Sigurdsson,

Bob Hanning, Klaus-Dieter Petersen

and Christian Schwarzer, who also

completed the Master Coach programme,”

said Spaniard Raul Alonso, coach of Austrian

national league club Schwaz Tirol, after

he had been awarded his certificate. “I

learned a lot that will prove useful. Group

dynamics and the exchange of experiences

were excellent and have provided me

with fresh ideas.” In the future, all coaches

having responsibility for teams entering

European competitions will be required

to hold an EHF Master Coach License.

In the late 1990s, the EHF defined coach

and referee training programmes for

young people as an additional new priority.

The 1st EHF Youth Coaches’ Course

was conducted at Partille/SWE on 27

and 28 June 1998, on the fringe of the

renowned youth tournament held near

Gothenburg. Further courses followed in

Estoril (POR) and Rotenburg (GER) in 1999.

From an early date on, the EHF’s aim has

been to also provide training for referees

at a high level – and, as history has shown,

quite successfully.

Among the participants of the 1st Young

Referees Course, likewise held in Partille

from 1 to 6 June 2000, were the young pairs

Horacek/Nowotny (CZE), Gjeding/Hansen

(DEN) and Lazar/Reveret (FRA). These

three pairs went on to officiate at many

major matches, and some of them still do.

And this is exactly what the EHF had in mind

when it initiated the Young Referee Project

in 2001. EHF President Staffan Holmqvist

said: “Within this project we will establish

a new generation of referees, well-educated

and with international experience at a

young age. They are ready for greater challenges!”

Another of the EHF’s core tasks in the development

of handball is the promotion of

women’s handball. This topic was on the

agenda already back in the mid-1990s, at

the 3rd EHF Congress in Athens, for example.

Further initiatives were the Women’s

Action Plan in 1999, the installation of a

system with “women coordinators” and

a Women’s Handball Day in 2000, when

the EHF was proactively recruiting female

members, asking them to take part as

coach, as player or as delegate or functionary.

“The European Handball Federation

is convinced that it is important to make

handball more accessible for women and

to help them to overcome regional and

cultural barriers,” (EHF Annual Report

2000).

Five years ago, the EHF re-launched this

promotional effort by creating the Women’s

Handball Development Programme.

On the fringe of the Women’s 19 European

Championship 2011 in Rotterdam; a group

of experts around the renowned coach Marit

Breivik (NOR), including Narcisa Lecusanu

(ROU), Linde Panis (BEL), Carmen Manchado

(ESP) and Katrine Thoe Nielsen (DEN),

compiled a list of requests, which Carmen

Manchado finally presented at the 10th

Conference of Presidents. The key items

were:

• The introduction of a Women’s Handball

Board

• Measures for more female representatives

in European handball

• A full time position dedicated to

women’s handball at the European

level

• Branding of women’s handball at the

European level

• The restructuring of competitions for

young female players

• Recruitment projects for girls and

studies on ball size

The success of this initiative can be seen

today in each Annual Report of the EHF.

The Women’s Handball Board has meanwhile

been created on an equal footing with

the Men’s Professional Handball Board, but

focuses strongly on the development of

women‘s Handball and of “Women in

Handball”.

In addition to numerous initiatives started

by national federations at the external

and internal levels, one of the major champions

of this process was Jean Brihault in

his then function as Vice President. He not

only designed the structure of the Professional

Handball Board, but also presented

a plan for the Women‘s Handball

Board at the Congress. Meanwhile, women

are represented in almost every Commission.

Within the EHF administration,

the share of female members has always

been quite large.

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DEVELOPMENT

174


“The courses were quite tough and

the Master paper quite a challenge.

I was one of the youngest candidates,

alongside well-known names such

as Dagur Sigurdsson, Bob Hanning,

Klaus-Dieter Petersen and Christian

Schwarzer, who also completed the

Master Coach programme”

Raul Alonso, coach of Austrian national league club Schwaz Tirol,

after getting the EHF Master Coach certificate (2015)

The EHF launched further programmes

aimed at enhancing the quality of the game

and, in a broad-based effort, winning new

members for the handball family, especially

children and adolescents. Numerous

publications were issued in print and

video in order to make handball popular

in those countries where the sport lacks

a long-standing tradition. “The Steps to

Handball” was the title of a brochure published

in 1997. One year later, the EHF

launched the Mini Winnies project, which

used cartoon characters to teach children

not only handball, but also fair play.

Groundbreaking, finally, was the EHF

symposium on “Handball at School”,

which had been developed jointly with

the Hellenic Handball Federation and was

finally held in Thessaloniki from 25 to 27

April 2002. As a follow-up event, the

“Handball at school” conference was

staged on the fringes of the EHF 20 Men’s

European Championship in Innsbruck

(AUT) four years later. The key question

was: “How to motivate pupils/children and

how to motivate teachers/parents/universities.”

Participants from 24 countries

held a lively debate about potential solutions

and ideas. Today, the “Handball at

School” project, which has, of course, been

inspired by the Minihandball Day organised

in the early days of the EHF, is one of the

most successful and most important projects

in the evolution of European handball.

Professional support for EHF development

programmes is provided by a large

number of renowned EHF lecturers and

outside experts covering coaching, refereeing,

and beach handball.

In 2001, the S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Milestones,

Accepted, Realistic, Time-Limited)

programme was launched, which seeks to

support children and adolescents aged 10

to 18 in countries where handball must yet

be developed. This may involve, for example,

beach handball, but also the nomination

of young people for coaching and refereeing

courses and support in the shape of

balls or goals. These projects are evaluated

on an ongoing basis and terminated, if

targets are not met: “The EHF can stop the

support, if the implementation does not go

smoothly or the programme does not follow

the schedule agreed upon.”

And then the EHF created the Foster Project,

which encourages countries with a

long-established handball tradition to forge

partnerships with so-called “lesser handball

countries” for the purpose of transferring

their know-how. Again, this has been

175


an extremely effective project. Norwegian

handball, for example, has been supporting

pioneers in Georgia for many years. As

another example, the Hungarian Handball

Federation has been providing assistance

to Latvia.

For the past ten years, the EHF has been

promoting wheelchair handball. For this

purpose, educational videos were produced

and publications printed. “We have

to be aware of our responsibility to sportsmen

and women who are not able to play

handball in the traditional manner,” was

the outline of the EHF’s motives in the Annual

Report 2006. “Handball should not

be limited to age, gender or physical condition.

Handball is a sport for all with no borders.

The EHF has therefore been working

on the pilot project ‘Wheelchair Handball’.

After less than one year of preparation,

the EHF was able to organise its first wheelchair

handball demonstration in cooperation

with the 5-time winner of the Austrian

Wheelchair Championship, the ‘sitting

bulls’ first European tournament on the

occasion of the 2006 Youth Handball Convention

dated 18 November 06.” In 2013,

wheelchair handball was part of the European

Open in Gothenburg (SWE) – a first

tangible success.

To members striving for ongoing development,

the EHF provides support in other

areas as well. In 2008, the EHF released an

Arena Construction Manual with detailed

descriptions of the key requirements to

be considered in building modern handball

arenas. This Manual had been developed

by office-based experts working with

Jan Tuik, Chairman of the Competitions

Commission, who had studied the most

effective use of venues, including routing

systems for EUROs, for many years.

Two years later, the continental federation

started an EHF Infrastructure Support

Programme designed to assist smaller but

ambitious member federations in developing

a modern administrative system.

The EHF also sponsored projects such as

Street Handball, which had been largely

masterminded by the Danish international

player Lasse Boesen.

The EHF has also been pushing for more

proactive collaboration with academics

and, to this end, has regularly organised

scientific conferences since 2011. Today,

the EHF maintains close relations with the

Union of University Handball Teachers

(UUHT), which ensures the international

propagation of recent advances in handball

teaching and research. The EHF also

cooperates closely with the University Las

Palmas/Gran Canaria, whose work is dedicated

to referee education and school projects

– EHF referee video teaching material,

2D and 3D animated promotion web tools

for minihandball and „Handball at School“

developed by the University of Las Palmas”.

A major part of these activities have been

centrally controlled and coordinated by

the EHF Competence Academy & Network

(EHF CAN) established at the EHF office

in 2008. “The EHF Competence Academy

& Network was established as an educational

service centre for EHF member

federations in order to develop and deliver

sport specific educational und training

programmes,” explains EHF Coordinator

Höritsch. “Competences are offered by

making use of national and international

handball experts, external lecturers from

sports science, medicine, other sports,

business (marketing, equipment suppliers)

and media (press, TV, internet) as well as

e-learning, blended learning and interdisciplinary

courses of various duration.”

One of the most important tasks of

EHF CAN is the provision of a variety of

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DEVELOPMENT

178


teaching resources, says Höritsch. The EHF

CAN also serves as a documentation centre

which carefully archives development

and educational programmes. At the same

time, the EHF CAN also addresses the future

of the game and technical support

for the coaching process as well as referee

education, including game administration

(goal line proof, instant replay). A concrete

example of this work were the field tests in

the 2015-16 season, carried out with Fivers

players at the Wien-Margareten sports

hall. The object of these tests was “measuring

the game”: small chips attached to

the handball players’ bodies were used

to capture the players’ position data, distances

run, speeds and height of jumps.

To put it briefly: the game was practically

broken down into its components by the

computer.

This project opened up completely new

possibilities for presenting the sport of

handball to the public, as it provides broadcasting

TV stations with facts and figures to

illustrate the fine points of handball in the

VELUX EHF Champions League, for example.

But this is only one side of the coin. The

other side is the new options that the data

collected offer in the context of training science.

Academics, coaches, engineers, data

specialists and TV experts have yet to find

out, however, how the data recorded may

actually produce benefits for the game in

the future.

This is still going to take some time, but

is another concrete example of how proactively

the EHF CAN is working for the

future of handball. No matter at which

level, whether in teaching, in science, in economics

or in recruiting new members: the

development of handball is never complete;

the socio-aesthetic aspects of our team

sport are of great significance as a contribution

to society. The EHF CAN‘s mission

should therefore always be “to serve the

sport and its people”.

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PARTNER

STATEMENTS

European handball, at this stage of its development, has a dual responsibility:

towards itself and towards the rest of the (handball)

world. Towards itself it has the duty to continue developing its competitions

and their global economy while preserving the principles

and values that have always been the fundamental ingredients

of handball in Europe. The basis of this humanistic approach is that

the development of performance should never jeopardise personal

development. Towards the rest of the world it has the duty to

continue contributing to the development of handball on the other

continents: in team sports, the strength of your opponent is by definition

constitutive of your own. The EHF is the institutional bearer

of these responsibilities and is excellently equipped to face them.

Jean Brihault (EHF President)

Thanks to the EHF, European handball has become a role model for

handball worldwide. Now, in order to further promote and develop our

sport, we have to work on ideas how to make our sport more attractive

and how to reach our target groups. I look forward to a continuous fruitful

and productive collaboration between IHF and the European Handball

Federation to further develop our sport.

Dr. Hassan Moustafa (President International Handball Federation)

While watching the handball tournament during the Olympic Games in

Rio de Janeiro, it was obvious to see what a great competition we have

in our sport. In the future we have to protect the quality of our sport,

we don’t need a complete change of the rules, and we have to show

the spectators worldwide that we live up to true sportsmanship. To be

able to guarantee a top-level competition we have to protect our main

actors - the players - we need top-level performances, we don’t need

random activities. Together with the EHF we have been able to get the

voices of the players heard, but this can only be the first step of a long

process; we are looking forward to find solutions to protect the players

and our sport.

Marcus Rominger (President European Handball Players Union)

180


With its breathtaking athleticism, gripping intensity, lightning-fast

breaks, and unmatched team spirit, handball is rightly poised to continue

growing in popularity across the world. VELUX Group is looking

forward to sharing this journey with the EHF, and we will continue to

highlight the drive, passion, teamwork and positive values that VELUX

Group shares with the sport. Handball has a great future, and VELUX

Group will be there to share the excitement with the fans.

Michael K. Rasmussen

(Director Marketing VELUX Group)

The world of sports is changing. Old sports disappear and new competitors

are on the rise. Sport becomes an event - a show, and the stars

are highly paid. In order to attract the younger generation, we need to

modernise and simplify our sport. We need a strategic plan on how to

develop handball Europe-wide, which includes ‘emerging nations’ i.e.

England. Hopefully, in a few years we will have a real European league

with top teams from all nations as the flagship and pulling locomotive

of our sport. European top clubs are ready to work in this direction in a

fair partnership together with the EHF!

Xavier O’Callaghan (President Mens Forum Club Handball)

181


PARTNER STATEMENTS

Having maintained a global, longstanding and valuable cooperation

with the EHF, Gerflor can only envisage the continued support of this

exhilarating sport. The EHF EURO events hosted across Europe remain

a great opportunity to promote and activate the celebration of handball

and with Taraflex floors as an integral part of these events; Gerflor continues

to contribute to the universal presentation of handball as well as

the EHF corporate identity. The European Handball Federation is a

great benchmark for all handball organisations and as the sport

continues to excel, Gerflor anticipates a lasting collaboration with an

organisation that places creativity and innovation at the fore.

Pierre Lienhard & Lionel Arlin

(Director International Operations & Event Manager of Gerflor)

The sport of handball has developed greatly since 1991 – not only internationally

but especially in Europe under the guidance of the EHF.

The increased profile of the sport and the European club competitions,

especially the yearly highlight of the innovative EHF VELUX FINAL4

Champions League, has brought the sport into a very positive light. We

have always been able to rely on the EHF to provide optimum working

conditions for the media and AIPS is extremely honoured to have EHF

as one of our official partners. The partnership is cemented in the

yearly “Media Get-together” jointly organised by the EHF, AIPS Handball

Commission and the city of Cologne. Congratulations on the silver

anniversary of one of Europe’s most dynamic sports federations!

Gianni Merlo (President International Sports Press Association)

The future is very positive for European handball in general and

women’s handball in particular. Handball is the best team sport for

women, both for players and spectators, with its technique, speed and

thrill. Handball has everything what modern people want.

Arne Elovsson (EHF Vice-President)

Women are becoming more active in sports today; and the share of

women in sports is constantly growing. Handball shall use this trend

to stimulate growth in the women sector. Jean Brihault put emphasis

on women’s handball in the past – and this has to be continued in the

future! It is easier to become the leading Olympic women’s team

sport than it is to become n°2 (after football) in men’s team sports.

This should be the target. The EHF and women’s clubs need to closely

cooperate to achieve this!

Zsolt Akos Jeney (President Women´s Forum Club Handball)

182


It has been a great honour for us to accompany and support the EHF for

25 years of development and growth. Jointly, we have delivered both

spectacular sports moments and strong commercial success. And the

future looks equally promising: European handball is on the right path

to master digital opportunities, access new markets and engage more

and more fans around the world. Handball, its teams and stories build

an essential part of the European sports landscape, and Infront‎ will

cease no effort to further strengthen the position and impact of the EHF

flagship events going forward. Our Infront and broader Wanda Sports

team truly lives and breathes handball – sharing the passion of our EHF

colleagues for the sport.

Philippe Blatter

(President & CEO Infront Sports & Media AG)

Aristotle said “the secret of being able to, lies in wanting to”…in all my

positions as a player, and on the other side of the court, I have met so

many people who are really willing to work for our beloved sport. The

future of handball will be a bright one. Our social interaction is currently

undergoing a radical change towards a digital transformation; thus

sport in general and handball need to adapt to this new situation and its

demands. But, the basis of successful handball will always stay the same:

contribute to your team and experience the great power of moving together

in the same direction.

David Szlezak (Managing Director EHF Marketing GmbH)

Founded in 1991 with more or less only one person in an office with a

desk and a chair, the EHF made a tremendous development in the last

25 years. EHF and EHFM pushed the European Championships and the

Champions League to an extraordinary level, and established a high

professional administration in Vienna. I am convinced that the European

handball family will master the challenges of the next 25 years and

improve the status of handball in a changing society and media world.

Frank Bohmann

(President European Professional Handball Leagues Association)

183


PARTNER STATEMENTS

Through the fortunate support of the City of Vienna and the Austrian

Olympic Committee, in 1991, the EHF succeeded in bringing the

seat of the organisation to Vienna. Through the work of the European

Handball Federation, handball has developed enormously both in

public perception and quality in recent years. Through the presentation

of our sport at European Championships or the Champions

League Final4, the EHF managed to establish handball as a premium

European sport. We all wish a successful future for our sport of

handball.

Gerhard Hofbauer (President Österreichischer Handballbund)

The European Handball Federation has led the way in promoting handball

to a global audience. We have seen handball audience numbers

continue to grow with increasing levels of engagement. Over the last

years MP & Silva managed to involve new broadcaster and consolidate

the number of more traditional broadcast partners, all resulting into a

significant year on year increases in the number of hours showing the

sport across multiple territories. MP & Silva is proud of its strong relationship

with the European Handball Federation and looks forward to

strengthening this partnership with the view to taking the distribution

and the awareness of European handball events to the next level.

The future looks immensely positive for handball and its fans.

Roberto Dalmiglio (Managing Director Europe MP & Silva)

184


Having lived and participated in these 25 years of our young European

Federation, my first words are dedicated to all the dreamers that have

built a strong, democratic, cooperative and very professional organization

without losing the spirit of sport. In Europe, handball is a sport

with high educational value, essential in any school and small community,

and strong and spectacular with all the conditions to be leader in

the biggest sport events. To win the future, we have to win the youth in

each school, in each city, in all European countries promoting equal opportunities,

especially the innovation and education, and cooperation

between all stakeholders. The future is ours and the EHF will continue

to be our pride.

Rui Coelho (President EHF Court of Handball)

Our sport must continue to be developed further; developments in the

area of technology and business that previously would have taken two

generations now takes place within a few years. We must preserve the

essence of our exciting sport and affiliate the new generation to us through

innovation and emotion as active and ordinary consumers.

Michael Wiederer (EHF Secretary General)

185


PHOTOS

PROLOGUE

Pages 16-17 European Cup 1983/84, THW

Kiel (Wiemann) vs. Metaloplastica Sabac (Basic)

Page 18 scene European Cup Final 1972: Partizan

Bjelovar vs. VfL Gummersbach Page 20 first

row: European Cup Final 1967, Dukla Prag vs.

VfL Gummersbach. Second row: Joachim Deckarm

in action vs. Tatabanya (1979) – European

Cup-trophy, 1974 Page 21 Karl Güntzel.

STRUCTURE

Pages 22-23 meeting Executive Committee in

2014 Page 24 second row: Tor Lian – Staffan

Holmqvist (left). Third row: Joanna Mucha,

Jean Brihault, Andrej Krasnicki Pages 25-26

11th Ordinary Congress 2012, Monte Carlo

Page 27 first row: 10th Ordinary Congress

2010, Kopenhagen – Claude Rinck, Jozef

Ambrus Page 28 Veronique Pecqueux-Rolland

(left), Nodjyalem Myaro Page 31 Jean Brihault,

Jan Tuik (background) Page 32 Second row

(from left): Markus Glaser, Helga Magnusdottir,

Jerzy Eliasz, Ralf Dejaco – Andrea Moser. Third

row: Arne Elovsson, Jesus Guerrero (above),

Janusz Czerwiński Pages 36-37 12th Ordinary

Congress 2014, Dublin Page 38 Markus

Glaser Page 39 Sian Rowland Page 40 first

row: Frantisek Taborsky (left), Claude Rinck

– EHF-Headquarter. Second row: Executice

Committee 2012, Monte Carlo. Third row:

Predrag Boskovic, Leopold Kalin Page 41 first

row (from right): Gerhard Hofbauer, Martin

Hausleitner. Third row: Andrea Moser, Ralf Dejaco

(from left) Page 44 first row: Jean Brihault,

Marcus Rominger – Lidija Bojic-Cacic. Second

row: 10th Extraordinary Congress , Limassol

(Cyprus) – Morten S. Christensen. Third row:

Gerd Butzeck, Joan Marin, Jesus Guerrero – Tor

Lian. Forth row: 10th Ordinary Congress 2010,

Kopenhagen Page 46 first row: Alexander

Toncourt – John Pedersen, Vesna Lazic. Second

row: Tor Lian, Prince Frederik from Denmark

– Hans Holdhaus, Helga Magnusdottir Page

47 first row: Christoph Gamper – Georgeta

Lecusanu, Viktor Poladenko. Second row (from

left): Helga Magnusdottir, Leopold Kalin, Jan

Tuik, Sandor Andorka, Jesus Guerrero, Carmen

Manchado – Marsha Brown, Michael Wiederer

Page 48 first row: Janka Stasova – JJ Rowland.

Second row: Hans-Jürgen Hinrichs, Dr. Hassan

Moustafa, Peter Mühlematter. Third row: Frantisek

Taborsky – TV-Reporter (Eurosport), Tor

Lian.

EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

Pages 54-55 Winner Men’s Euro 2016: Germany

Page 56 first row: feature Men’s EURO

2016. Second row: Lukas Nilsson, Laszlo Nagy

Pages 57-58 Winner 11th Women’s EURO

2014: Norway Page 59 first row: Montenegrin

Fans, Women’s EURO 2014. Second row:

Anita Kulcsar in 2000 Page 61 Dragan Skrbic,

Michael Wiederer, Uros Zorman (from left)

Page 62-63 Messecenter Herning, 11th Men’s

EURO 2014 Page 64 Final Women’s EURO

2014 Pages 66-67 Dagur Sigurdsson, 9th

Men’s EURO 2010 Page 68 first row: Winner

4th Men’s EURO 2000: Sweden – Markus Baur,

Daniel Stephan (from left). Third row: Sann

Solberg, Heidi Løke – 7th Men’s Euro 2006,

Lars Christiansen Page 69 Aron Palmarsson

Page 70 first row: Krakow Hall at the 12th

Men’s EURO 2016. Second row: semi-final

Germany-Norway, EURO 2016 – Vladimir

Maksimov. Third row: Winner 11th Women’s

EURO 2014: Norway Page 72 Nikola Karabatic

(left), Luka Karabatic Pages 74-75 Jérôme

Fernandez, 10th Men’s Euro 2010 Page 76 first

row: Magnus Wislander, Oleg Khodkow, Staffan

Olsson, Igor Lawrow, final 4th Men’s EURO

2000 – Talant Dushebajew in action, 2nd

Men’s EURO 1996. Second row: Genius Ivano

Balic against defender Didier Dinart – Renato

Vugrinec and teammates, 6th Men’s EURO

2004 Page 77 Thomas Mogensen (left), Momir

Ilic (2012) – Fan 11th Men’s EURO 2014.

Second row: Lasse Svan Hansen – Ivano Balic,

Jesper Jensen Pages 78-79 Media Call, 12th

Men’s EURO 2016 Page 80 Sabina Jacobsen

(left), Isabelle Gulldén Page 82 first row: Kiril

Lazarov – Marta Mangué Gonzalez. Second row:

Medal Ceremony, 11th Women’s EURO 2014.

Third row: Estevana Polman (left), Sanne van

Olphen –11th Women’s EURO 2014

Page 83 first row: Jelena Eric, Tatjana Logvin.

Second row: Alain Portes Pages 84-85 Cabral

Barbosa Page 86 first row: media – Thierry

Omeyer, Zita Newerla. Second row: Stadthalle

Vienna, 9th Men’s EURO 2010. Third row:

Timeout Coach András Németh – Heidi

Løke in action. Forth row: mixed zone 11th

Men’s EURO 2014 Page 88 first row: Hanna

Fogelström – Guro Røen, Kjersti Arntsen.

Second row: Lina Olsson Rosenberg – Winner

4th Women’s EURO 2000: Hungary – Heidi

Johansen. Third row: Mette Vestergaard Larsen

– feature referee. Forth row: Katrine Lunde

Page 89 first row: Carmen Martin Berenguer.

Second row: trophies Women’s EURO 2014.

Third row: scene Women’s EURO 2000,

Romania. Forth row: camera on the pitch, final

Women’s EURO 2014 Pages 90-91 feature

Men’s EURO 2014 Pages 92-93 EHF members

2008 in Stavanger.

YOUTH EUROPEAN CHAMPIONSHIPS

Pages 94-95 scene Men’s 18 EURO, Estonia

Page 96 Benoit Konkoud, Men’s 18 EURO

186


2014 – party Time Women’s U 19 EURO 2013

Page 97 Domagoj Duvnjak Page 98 Christina

Neagu – Medal Ceremony Women’s 19 EURO

2013 Page 99 Medal Ceremony Men’s 20

EURO 2006 Pages 100-101 Estonian Team

Men’s 20 EURO 2006 Page 102 first row: U

20 Team Austria. Second row: fans Women’s

17 EURO 2013 – scene Men’s 18 EURO. Third

row: Domagoj Dunvjak – Medal Ceremony

Women’s 17 EURO 2013 Page 104 first row:

Medal Ceremony Women’s 17 EURO 2013 –

Mikkel Hansen. Second row: Opening Ceremony

Men’s 20 EURO 2006. Third row: referee

Women’s 17 EURO 2013 – Nikola Bilyk Page

105 Sweden vs. Germany, Men’s 20 EURO

2006. Second row: Winner Mens‘ 18 EURO

2014: France. Third row: Women’s 19 EURO

2005 Page 106 first row: Mait Patrail – features

Youth European Championships. Second row:

group phase Women’s 17 EURO 2013 Page

108 first row: Winner Women’s 19 Euro 2013:

Russia. Second row: Qualification Event, Faroe

Islands – Women’s 19 EURO 2013. Third row:

Bronze Medal Women’s 19 EURO 2013: Denmark

– Dionne Visser Page 110 first row: Daniel

Stephan, Stefan Kretzschmar. Second row:

Coach Marit Breivik (left), Kjersti Grini. Third

row: Silver Medal EHF 18 EURO 2006: Denmark

Page 111 Medal Ceremony Women’s

17 EURO 2013 Pages 112-113 Medal Ceremony

Women’s EURO 2012 Pages 116-117

Medal Ceremony Men’s EURO 2012

CLUB COMPETITIONS

Pages 118-119 trophy VELUX EHF Champions

League Page 120-123 first row: Viborg

HK, Winner EHF Women’s Champions League

2009 – Györi Audi ETO KC, Winner MVM

EHF Champions League 2014 – Budocnost

Podgorica, Winner 2015 MVM EHF Champions

League 2015. Second row: FC Barcelona,

Winner VELUX EHF Champions League 2015

– SG Flensburg-Handewitt, Winner VELUX EHF

Champions League 2014 – BM Ciudad Real,

Winner EHF Champions League 2009 – KS

Vive Tauron Kielce, Winner VELUX EHF Champions

League 2016 Pages 123-125 features

VELUX EHF Final4, LANXESS arena, Cologne

Page 126 first row: Media Centre LANXESS

arena. Second row: Michael Wiederer, Medal

Ceremony MVM EHF Champions League 2015

Page 126-127 Olafur Stefansson, VELUX EHF

Final4 2012, semi-final Füchse Berlin vs. FC

Kopenhagen Page 127 first row: feature EHF

Champions League 2006/07. Second row:

medals EHF Champions League Final 2009

Page 128 Christian Schwarzer (left), Magnus

Wislander, final EHF Champions League 2000

– Deja Doler Page 129 Katrine Froelund –

Bojana Popovic Page 128-129 Laszlo Nagy

(background) Page 130-131 Opening Show,

VELUX EHF Final4 2015 Pages 132-133

Frederik Petersen, Konstantin Igropoulo, EHF

Cup Final4 2015 Page 134 first & second row:

features city of cologne. Third row: Stefan

Lövgren Page 135 first row: LANXESS arena,

Cologne. Third row: show act VELUX EHF

Final4 2015 – fans KS Vive Tauron Kielce

(2016) Page 136 first row: David Szlezak, Peter

Löscher – Katrine Lunde. Second row: media

box sky. Third row: fans, VELUX EHF Final4,

2016 – King Juan Carlos, David Baruffet Page

139 first row: feature LANXESS arena. Second

row: Ivan Cupic. Third row: Anita Görbicz Page

140-141 Opening Show VELUX EHF Final4

2016 Page 142 Cecil Langanger Pages 146-

147 Gudjon Valur Sigurdsson Page 148 first

row: Sandra Toft. Second row: features VELUX

EHF Final4. Third row: Press Centre – Krzysztof

Lijewski Pages 150-151 Luc Abalo with fans

Page 152 Gunnar Prokop Page 153 (from

left): Jean Brihault, Tor Lian, Michael Wiederer

Pages 154-155 features final tournaments EHF

Champions League.

DEVELOPMENT

Pages 156-157 feature beach handball

Page 153 feature beach handball Page 160

feature wheelchair handball Page 162 first

row: Vanja Antic (front), Jelena Jakovljevic –

Ole R. Jorstad. Second & third row: features

beach handball Page 163 first row: referee

beach handball. Second row: demonstration

street handball, 2010. Third row: Rui Coelho

(left), Marco Trespidi (middle), Helmut Wille

Pages 164-165 feature beach handball Pages

166-166 Hans Lindberg Page 168 first row:

Julie Bonaventura (left), Charlotte Bonaventura.

Second row: feature beach handball

Pages 170-171 Helmut Höritsch Page 172

first row: Monika Flixeder. Second row: Peter

Sichelschmidt. Third row: Doru Simion. Forth

row: Peter Fröschl Page 174 delegates and

referees, 11th Men’s EURO 2014 Page 176

first row: Alfred Gislason, Peter Kovacs. Second

row: Lino Cervar. Third row: Sebastian Helbig,

Marcus Geipel, Martin Gjeding, Mads Hansen

– Johan Ingi Gunnarsson. Forth row: Henrik La

Cour – Dragan Nachevski Page 176 Jiri Novotny,

Vaclav Horacek Pages 179-179 feature

beach handball.

PARTNER STATEMENTS

Page 181 Michael K. Rasmussen Page 183

Philippe Blatter Page 184 Gerhard Hofbauer

Page 185 Rui Coelho.

187


PROJECT MANAGEMENT

Marsha Brown

Erik Eggers

Christoph Gamper

Thomas Krämer

JJ Rowland

Michael Wiederer

TEXT

Stadionwelt/Erik Eggers

DESIGN / POST PRODUCTION

die Plantage Kreativ GmbH

Markus Wucherer

Melanie Hauber

Kathrin Kopietz (lächle)

PHOTOGRAPHY

Axel Heimken

Imago

Uros Hocevar

Horstmüller

Rafal Oleksiewicz

Sascha Klahn

Stadionwelt

Helmut Steickmann

EHF Media

PRINT

Westermann Druck GmbH (Zwickau)

All reproduction and representation

rights reserved. All photographers

presented in this book are protected by

intellectual property rights vested in EHF.

Consequently, none of these photographs

may be reproduced, modified,

re-circulated commercially exploited or

re-used in any form whatsoever.

all rights reserved by EHF,

Hoffingergasse 18,

A-1120 Vienna

Phone: +43 1 80 151 167

Mail: office@eurohandball.com

www.eurohandball.com

www.ehfmarketing.com

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