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EXEC confirms reform of EHF EL; extends YAC EUROs to 24 teams

NEWS: The EHF Executive Committee has met in Luxembourg on Friday
EHF Logo 100 European Handball Federation

The EHF Executive Committee has met in Luxembourg on Friday, one day ahead of the Conference of Presidents and an Extraordinary EHF Congress in the same location.

While the European club handball season 2022/23 has started and the first rounds have been played in all competitions, the EXEC took key decisions already for the 2023/24 season and beyond.

Changes to EHF European League Men

As of the 2023/24 season, the group matches of the EHF European League Men will be played with 32 teams instead of 24. Furthermore, there will be only be one qualification round played prior to the group matches.

The corresponding motion had been submitted by the EHF’s club competitions department and followed requests placed by the clubs to the EHF to offer a safe and early planning of the season.

In the new system, 16 teams have a fixed place in the group phase, another 16 will join after the first and only qualification round which is played in the home-and-away format with 16 vs 16 teams right at the start of the season. Places will be reserved for emerging clubs requesting an upgrade from the EHF European Cup Men.

From the group matches, the first and second ranked teams move on to the main round which is played with four groups of four teams. Results from group matches are carried over.

The first-ranked teams at the end of the main round qualify straight for the quarter-finals. The teams ranked second and third play home-and-away play-off matches for a spot in the quarter-finals. The season then culminates in the EHF Finals.

A detailed overview of all changes to the EHF European League Men as of 2023/24 will be presented on Saturday to the federations and will additionally be released next week.

The changes apply only to the EHF European League Men; the playing system for the EHF European League Women remains unchanged.

Separate rankings for EHF CL and EHF EL

Also impacting the 2023/24 season is the Executive Committee’s decision to divide the club competitions ranking and have dedicated parts for the EHF Champions League as well as for the EHF European League in the men’s and women’s competitions.

The ranking for the EHF European Cup has already been separate and will be kept as such.

The new separate rankings for the EHF Champions League and the EHF European League will put each federation on a correct position mirroring the performance of its clubs in that competition. It also allows federations to reach a higher position in the respective ranking in easier fashion.

All rankings for the EHF club competitions in the 2023/24 season and an overview on the changes will be published early next week.

Cross-border leagues approved

With the respective information at hand, the Executive Committee confirmed the following cross-border leagues

  • The SEHA League with eight men’s clubs Croatia, Serbia, North Macedonia, Hungary and Slovakia
  • The Baltic League with 12 men’s clubs from Lithuania, Estonia and Latvia
  • The BENE League with 12 men’s clubs from Belgium and the Netherlands
  • The MOL Liga with 12 women’s clubs from the Czech Republic and Slovakia

 

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All Younger Age Category EHF EUROs to be played with 24 teams

After the EXEC had already confirmed an extension from 16 to 24 teams for the Men’s 18 EHF EUROs as of 2024 and the Women’s 17 EHF EUROs as of 2025, the decision was taken to harmonise the system and enlarge also the Men’s 20 EHF EURO and the Women’s 19 EHF EURO in the same years.

Corresponding to the extension of teams, motions were passed which laid out the qualification path to the Men’s 18 EHF EURO 2024 respectively the Women’s 17 EHF EURO 2025 and confirmed the general playing system for a Younger Age Category EHF EURO with 24 teams.

With regards to the qualification, the organiser as well as the eight best-ranked federations of the past three M18/W17 events (2022, 2020, 2018) are directly qualified to the Men’s 18 EHF EURO 2024, respectively the Women’s 17 EHF EURO 2025.

The remaining places will be decided via qualification tournaments which will be played in January/November 2024.

For the Men’s 20 EHF EURO 2024 and the Women’s 19 EHF EURO 2025 no additional qualification shall be played, but teams shall receive their place either through their rank at the last YAC EHF EURO, the last EHF Championship and eventually through the ranking of the YAC competitions in 2022.

When it comes to the playing system for a YAC EHF EURO with 24 teams, it was confirmed that following the preliminary round with six groups of four teams each, eight teams would move on to the main round, eight teams would proceed to an intermediate round and eight teams would play the relegation round.

Furthermore, and to complete the reform of the YAC events, the EXEC confirmed a motion to adapt the age category system for the European Open. As of 2025, respectively 2026 the European Open are planned to be organised for the age categories Men’s 19 (instead of currently Men’s 17) and Women’s 18 (instead of Women’s 16) and in the phase prior to the respective IHF World Championship of the same age category.

Event report and awarding of YAC events in 2023

The EXEC was presented with the current ‘Events Report’ outlining the successful organisation of the younger age category events over the summer, the current status of preparations for the EHF EUROs in 2022 and 2024 as well the next steps towards the YAC EHF EUROs and EHF Championships next year.

With the respective information and reports for host cities and arenas at hand, the EXEC approved the awardings for the YAC events in 2023 as follows.

  • Women’s 17 EHF EURO: Podgorica, Montenegro
  • Women’s 17 EHF Championship: Baku, Azerbaijan
  • Women’s 17 EHF Championship: Ankara, Türkiye

 

  • Women’s 19 EHF EURO: Romania, exact location tbd
  • Women’s 19 EHF Championship: Klaipeda, Lithuania
  • Women’s 19 EHF Championship: Pristina, Kosovo

The Women’s 19 EHF Championships are scheduled to be played from 8-16 July, the Women’s 19 EHF EURO from 6-16 July 2023. The Women’s 17 EHF Championship are scheduled to be played from 5-13 August, the Women’s 17 EHF EURO from 3-13 August 2023.

Draw for EHF Beach Handball EURO 2023

The EXEC confirmed a motion submitted by the Beach Handball Commission which sees for the first time a draw being conducted for an EHF Beach Handball EURO in similar fashion as for indoor handball competitions.

For the 2023 event (24-28 May) in Nazaré, Portugal, the 16 teams participating (per gender) will be seeded in performance rows following the EHF Beach Handball Nations Ranking system, taking into consideration the national team results of the last three (3) years and rankings at the European Beach Handball Championships (both senior and YAC).

The draw will take place after the registration deadline for the teams at the beginning of February 2023.

Master Plan projects confirmed for Scotland and Croatia

Two new Master Plan projects can be put in place after the EXEC confirmed the plans of the Scottish and the Croatian Handball Federation. Corresponding agreements will be signed at the Conference of Presidents on Saturday.

Scotland aims to establish handball as the indoor team sport of choice for primary schools in Scotland and wants to continue to build strong relationships with secondary schools within key local authorities, all in close cooperation with the clubs, to build secondary school regional competitions

Croatia aims to promote the overall handball development, especially grassroots development, and wants to introduce kindergarten handball in Croatia in cooperation with the clubs as well as introduce/include mini handball in primary schools (grades 1-3).

Evaluation of wheelchair handball

The Executive Committee took note of the four-a-side wheelchair handball world championship which is currently organised by the International Handball Federation in Cairo, Egypt. The EHF will organise the combined EHF EURO and IHF World Championship as a six-a-side event from 18-20 November in Portugal. After both events, an evaluation shall take place to find a common solution on the way to become part of the Paralympic Games.

Most successful business year for EHF Marketing

With the notes of the EHF Marketing Advisory Board Meeting on 1 September at hand, the Executive Committee was informed that EHF Marketing GmbH, the marketing arm of the European Handball Federation, has concluded its most successful business year and the highest payment in the history of EHFM will be delivered following the conclusion of the 2021/22 season. As foreseen in the procedures, the split will be 80% to the clubs and 20% to the EHF.

Meeting calendar confirmed

The EXEC confirmed the meeting calendar for 2023 including a date change for the 16th Ordinary EHF Congress which will be moved from 23/24 June 2023 to 14/15 September 2023. The Swiss city of Basel remains as the Congress’ location.

Miscellaneous

The EXEC took note of various reports submitted for information. This included an update on current business activities, an overview of the Respect Your Talent camps over the summer, the Legal report and the report of the European Anti-doping Unit.

An update was given on the progress of the new European Handball House in Vienna and minutes were received from the recent meetings of the Finance and EURO Delegation as well as from the meetings of the EHF’s Technical Commissions in late August.

The next meeting of the EHF Executive is scheduled for 18/19 November at the final weekend of the Women’s EHF EURO 2022 in Ljubljana, Slovenia.

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