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Wiederer: “Sweden 2016 was another milestone event”

INTERVIEW: Newly elected EHF President Michael Wiederer evaluates the Women’s EHF EURO 2016 in Sweden and already looks to the upcoming 2018 European Championships in Croatia and France

Photo: Uros Hocevar

It was a new experience for Michael Wiederer at the Women's EHF EURO 2016. New in the sense that it was his first European Championship in the role of EHF President.

After having been the EHF Secretary General since 1992, Wiederer was elected president in the middle of November at the EHF Congress in St. Wolfgang, Austria.

On the final weekend of the Women's EHF EURO 2016, talked to Wiederer about the championship, upcoming tasks and challenges and the future of the EHF EURO. After two weeks of handball and more than 40 matches, how do you look back at the Women’s EHF EURO 2016?
Michael Wiederer: We have to thank the Swedish Handball Federation for a great tournament. After they already delivered a benchmarking Men's EHF EURO 2002 and Women's EHF EURO 2006, they set another milestone. We truly look forward to cooperating again with the Swedish federation for the Men’s EHF EURO 2020 which they will host together with Norway and Austria. The overall picture of this event to the outside world was really positive. Were there any challenged that needed to be overcome?
Michael Wiederer: In certain parts, this EHF EURO was a challenge for the EHF as during the event some questions occurred which had not been on our minds before. But the Swedish organizers are highly experienced and delivered a perfect final weekend. However, we were not satisfied with the number of spectators in Malmö and Helsingborg. What were the main differences between being the EHF Secretary General at an EHF EURO and now being the EHF President?
Michael Wiederer: The difference was not huge. I was only elected president two weeks before the EHF EURO, so I was involved in all processes before, only in a different function. Most of the tasks I had started as EHF Secretary General and finished them as EHF President. Over the next few weeks and months, parts of my work will be handed over to others. For example, after having opened 25,000 balls at various draw events, I have given this job to others for the play-off draw of the Women's World Championship 2017. The EHF EURO events 2016 in Poland and Sweden are history now, but in just a year's time the Men's EHF EURO 2018 will take place in Croatia, followed by the Women's EHF EURO 2018 in France in two years. What is the current state of preparation for these two events?
Michael Wiederer: This is an exceptionally interesting period. About a year ago, the EHF had taken care of six EHF EURO events at the same time. When Poland 2016 was finished, there were five left, not there are four which have already been awarded. The men's and women's tournaments in 2018 and 2020. And just for 2020 we have to deal with five organisers – Norway and Denmark for the Women's EHF EURO, Norway and Austria for the Men's EHF EURO. Furthermore, in 2017 the bidding period for the events in 2022 and 2024 will start. So we never get bored when it comes to our EHF EURO events.

On the fringes of the EHF EURO in Sweden, the new EHF Executive Committee held its first meeting after the Congress. How would you describe the working atmosphere?
Michael Wiederer: Only two of eleven EXEC members have the same functions as they had before the Congress, eight are completely new. But the first meeting after our initial get-together immediately after the Congress in St. Wolfgang was very efficient. For example, the meeting was scheduled for seven hours, but we had discussed all topics after only three and a half. The new members intensively contributed to the meeting. I don’t know, whether it is because of the new President (laughs).

written by Björn Pazen / ts