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"EHF EURO has been much more than just 17 days of competition"

NEWS: With only the final and the bronze medal match remaining, the Women’s EHF EURO 2018 has drawn huge praise from the EHF and local organisers at the official closing press conference

Organisers and EHF hailed the EURO 2018 a tremendous success. Photos: Anze Malovrh / Kolektiff Images

The Women’s EHF EURO 2018 in France has been hailed as a tremendous success by all parties involved in the organisation.

Top representatives from the European Handball Federation and the local organising committee found lauding words at the event’s closing press conference on Saturday in the AccorHotels Arena, which will host the final between France and Russia as well as the bronze medal match between the Netherlands and Romania on Sunday.

“It’s very easy to sell women’s handball when you see the level of the play during the semi-finals,” EHF President Michael Wiederer said about the quality of Friday’s games. “The quality of women’s handball at elite level offers top-quality entertainment and attracts a wide audience to the game.”

A total of 65 TV stations have been broadcasting the event to more than 130 countries.

“These are good figures. The viewing rates in the major countries are extremely high and extremely good, a step forward for women’s handball,” Wiederer said.

Remarkably enough, this European Championship is only the first ever, women’s or men’s, to be staged in France. A choice Wiederer has not regretted for a moment.

“It’s an important development for the EHF, to play a flagship event in one of the strongest handball nations in Europe,” said the EHF President said, who also praised the many volunteers, “who have really contributed to the positive atmosphere.”

The President of the EHF EURO 2018 Organising Committee used similar words to express her satisfaction.

“This event has meant much more than just 17 days of competition,” said Sylvie Pascal-Lagarrigue, who expected the tournament to have a long-lasting legacy in France.

More than 140,000 handball fans have visited the arenas in Brest, Montbéliard, Nancy, Nantes and Paris - where the venue has been sold out for Sunday.

According to the managing director of the local organising committee, Alexandre Ferracci, the new strategy of ‘one ticket, one game’ has worked well.

With the ‘handballissime’ campaign successfully spreading the word of women’s handball across the country, and with a well-oiled organisation ensuring a flawless event, Pascal-Lagarrigue looked back in satisfaction.

“We have worked on the best possible experience for all participants,” Pascal-Lagarrigue said. “We are moving in the right direction for the promotion of women’s sport.”

The playing quality the 16 teams have brought to the courts has been praised by all, and EHF Vice President Pedrag Boskovic said EHF EURO 2018 has even applied “new standards to the game.”

New standards were also set when it comes to the use of technology, thanks to new and existing tools, like goal-line and goal-light technology, the digital timeout buzzer, instant video replay, the Digital ScoreSheet, and - for the finals weekend - the iBall, developed by SELECT and KINEXON.

“This event has set a milestone in the history of women’s handball,” said EHF Secretary General Martin Hausleitner, who praised of range of companies who have contributed to the success of the event.

“Our media and marketing partner Infront and their staff did an outstanding job in creating an environment for our sponsors,” said Hausleitner.

The secretary general listed engelbert strauss, Gjensidige, Intersport, REMA1000 and Unibet, and singled out Grundfos for their sustainability campaign around the sixth and 13th goals scored in the matches, and REMA1000 with “a very funny add we saw during the last three weeks permanently.”

The EHF EURO 2018 also reached new heights when it comes to displaying the EHF EURO through the various media channels of the EHF.

The federation’s Head of Media and Communication, JJ Rowland, said the EHF EURO app has been downloaded more than 25,000 times, 1,200 video clips have been produced courtesy of a new artificial intelligence based clipping tool, while views on ehfTV.com and other EHF owned channels have reached the 25-million mark.

Also in that respect, as Rowland said, “it is the most successful EHF EURO to date in terms of digital content, reach and engagement across all channels.”

written by Eric Willemsen / ts