Hausleitner: “People are really celebrating a handball party”

INTERVIEW: The new EHF Secretary General highlights the success of the EHF EURO 2018 after the first days and is looking forward to an extremely “high-quality tournament”

Martin Hausleitner at his first EHF EURO in the role of the EHF Secretary General. Photo caption: Uros Hocevar.

Martin Hausleitner has been appointed to the role of the EHF Secretary General in August 2017 and has brought a wealth of experience with him, as his credentials were already established in the EHF, with him serving as a member of the Competitions Commision from 2012 and 2016.

THE EHF EURO 2018 is the first major tournament for Hausleitner in his new role, but there is not a lot the 49-year old did not know. He was one of the key members behind Austria’s successful hosting of the EHF EURO 2010, while also being a delegate and competition manager for the EHF EURO events and at the EHF FINAL 4 in the previous years.

In an interview with ehf-euro.com, Hausleitner described his feelings after the first ten days of the EHF EURO, underlined the importance of a successful event and previewed the transition to a 24-team tournament in 2020.

ehf-euro.com: This is the first tournament in your role as the EHF Secretary General, how do you manage until now?

"It has been an extremely high-quality tournament, everything went down as planned, so it was quite exciting to observe the first days. One of the biggest takes from these days is that the arenas were packed and this is very important for the success of a tournament.

"The games ran exactly as we planned them and how we scheduled them, so we are satisfied. Personally, I am happy how did the organisation panned out and that we could guarantee the quality of the games in the highest standard."

ehf-euro.com: You obviously had a lot of experience in organising an EHF EURO. How did the transition from your former positions to the one of secretary general go?

"Many topics are the same, you find a lot of similarities. The biggest difference is the perspective from which you are observing the issues. You have to change your point of view, it is a completely different dimension, it is not your personal point of view anymore, rather than the federation’s. I think the biggest change is that you have to think twice before you act.

"Regarding the EHF EURO, I am very much in detail about organising the tournament, I am very much involved, as I was before, therefore the surprises are not so big.

ehf-euro.com: Has this tournament been proven a success at this point, after several days since its start?

"Yes, I think we can surely say that the EHF EURO 2018 has been a successful experience since the start until this point. There has been unbelievable TV coverage, with 175 territories being able to tune in, outstanding attendance in the playing venues, with packed arenas in Zagreb, Porec, Varazdin and Split. There have been fans from Austria and Norway coming to Porec and a huge number of Macedonian or Slovenian fans who came in Zagreb.

"The sheer quality of the teams that are playing at the EHF EURO has also been increasing, with a visible increase in the sport as a whole. The important thing is that there is a visible step-by-step improvement from tournament to tournament and this can only help handball to develop even more.

ehf-euro.com: You have already mentioned the packed arenas in Croatia, how did you find the atmosphere here?

"People are really celebrating a handball party, which is the target of the EHF EURO. Moreover, our objective is to bring countries together and I also think that happened here. I was overwhelmed by what happened in this tournament, because you cannot go away out of this atmosphere, you feel the emotions. I think that sums it up perfectly: this tournament is a success."

ehf-euro.com: What are the ingredients that lift the EHF EURO to the success it has?

"It is the ongoing process of developing of our competition. In 1994, 24 years ago, the first EHF EURO was more local, but now it has developed into an international brand. Everybody is waiting for the tournament, the fans are looking forward to it because they now it has a fix position in the calendar, in January and it is one of the highlights of the year.

A glance in the future: how the EHF EURO will shape up in two years’ time

ehf-euro.com: How do you see the game in ten-year’s time?

"Over the years, there have been rule changes, the game became faster and more physical. The rules were altered to bring more excitement and this was the case. There are more tactical innovations, the fans can watch a sport that looks thrilling. In the end, we have an exciting product, that will develop healthily over the next few years. Therefore, the number of spectators will also increase.

ehf-euro.com: The video technology is still a new feature in handball, how do you think it will develop in the future?

"We started this project a few years ago and it is currently ongoing. There is not only handball who is facing a challenge with video technology, there are many other sports and we have to deal with it. Problems can occur, but the technology supports the work of the referees and officials. We have to evaluate, to improve the guidelines and it is an ongoing process. But until now, the referees were supported in numerous decisions already to be confirmed in their decision-making process.

ehf-euro.com: Two years from now, the EHF EURO 2020 will feature three countries hosting the tournament for the first time in history. How important will this step be for the competition?

"It is something very special, it is the next necessary step for two reasons. On one hand, we will extend the number of teams from 16 to 24, because a lot of teams want to take part in the final tournament of the EHF EURO, because it can develop the handball culture in their country.

"We had already seen it here, in Croatia, with the Czech Republic winning against Denmark or FYR Macedonia drawing with Germany. But there is also the case of Poland, a traditional powerhouse, struggling to qualify for this tournament, therefore handball is improving a lot in Europe. I am sure that this is the right time and the right step to make right now.

"The other reason is that having three hosting countries, there will surely be a lot more interest and there will be great atmosphere in the arenas."












written by Adrian Costeiu / br