Wiederer: "We will put the players even more in the focus"
It is less than a month ago that Barça lifted the trophy of the EHF Champions League Men in Cologne; in the EHF Champions League Women Vipers Kristiansand topped the podium in Budapest at the beginning of June.
However, while the end of the 2021/22 season still feels close, 2022/23 already casts its shadows – in fact, it is already in full swing.
The draw for the EHF Champions League group phase on 1 July marked the season’s official start. Since then several younger age category and beach handball events have already been played and finished.
"The previous season finished with some brilliant events in our club competitions," said EHF President Michael Wiederer.
"For example, the EHF European Cup Women final between the teams of Gran Canaria and Malaga set spectator for a women’s handball match in Spain. At the EHF FINAL4 Women in Budapest, 15,400 spectators followed the final – more than ever before for any women’s match in our club competitions."
And if the number of participating teams is anything to go by, the upcoming season is on a good way to break records as well.
Around 250 clubs are set to participate in the men’s and women’s club competitions – literally the same amount as in 2021/22 when 254 teams took to Europe’s handball courts.
In the light of the current challenges, this is a remarkable development for Wiederer.
"Our competitions have been facing a number of unforeseen challenges for the past two and half years. First, and still ongoing, the pandemic; since February, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which is first and foremost a human catastrophe, has impacted our sport on all levels," the EHF President said.
"It makes me happy and also look confident into the future that our competitions remain stable and healthy in these circumstances."
'Player of the Year' award to be launched
Right now 'on court', the younger age category events and most notably the Men’s 20 EHF EURO (until 17 July) in Portugal are in focus of the EHF’s business.
Later, from 4 to 14 August, the Men’s 18 EHF EURO 2022 will be played in Montenegro – and in parallel three corresponding EHF Championships in Israel, Latvia and Romania.
'Off court', preparations for the autumn events have started. The EHF’s technical commission meet on 26 August.
Just a few days later, a conference for referees and delegates marks the next milestone en route to the Women’s EHF EURO 2022 in Slovenia, North Macedonia and Montenegro (4 to 20 November).
On 23 and 24 September 2022, the National Federations’ presidents will gather in Luxembourg for the Conference of Presidents and an EHF Extraordinary Congress.
Aside from competitions on and events off court, there is another project for the EHF which Wiederer highlights.
"Starting with the 2022/23 season, we will put the players even more in the focus, as we will launch a ‘Player of the Year’ award.
"This award is set to honour the players’ achievements throughout the season and shall eventually culminate in a gala event at the end of the season at which the season’s best players will be celebrated," Wiederer said.