Two “hypnotic” weeks of handball in Croatia

NEWS REPORT: The EHF EURO 2018 has been a resounding success, both on and off the court, with high attendances and record numbers for TV and online coverage

The closing press conference was held in Arena Zagreb on Saturday afternoon. Photo: Stanko Gruden

Fantastic atmosphere, packed arenas, a top level of handball and passionate support from fans. The EHF EURO 2018 has been labelled a great success, with everything falling into place for a complete handball experience.

“Sometimes it is interesting what you assume from a championship and what really happens at a championship. We saw the enthusiasm of the organiser supporting the cause with everything they could,” said EHF President Michael Wiederer during the closing press conference in Arena Zagreb on Saturday.

“From the sporting part, we can state that the top level in Europe is growing. It is not by chance that we see new teams now in the top nations, and this is very good for our sport,” added Wiederer.

“We thought that the EHF EURO 2018 was going to be a hypnotic game. Well, I have been hypnotised by what happened in Croatia in the past two weeks,” said EHF Secretary General Martin Hausleitner.

The attention to advanced preparation and organisation was obvious, as the tournament proceeded without a glitch.

“In the most important games there were over 500 volunteers in the arenas. As far as the audience, over 65 per cent of the fans were from outside of Croatia. I am very proud to say that over 150,000 spectators attended the games until now,” said Local Organising Committee President Silvijo Njiric.

Improved TV and online coverage

The EHF EURO 2018 has seen an impressive improvement in media figures. There was strong TV interest, with coverage in 175 territories provided by 130 media outlets. RTL, the Croatian broadcaster, reported a market share of 60 per cent during the home team’s matches.

The preliminary figures show an increase in TV audiences of 17 per cent, and a 30 per cent increase in market share in key handball markets, while EHFTV – the EHF’s own OTT platform – recorded a 30 per cent increase in unique users and 25 per cent increase in number of visits to the page. During the EHF EURO 2018, there were 1.2 million visits to ehfTV.com.  

New challenges ahead

After the final whistle sounds in Zagreb on Sunday, capping off an impressive event, the focus will shift to the Women’s EHF EURO 2018, which will take place between November 29 and December 16 in France.

The countdown to the next Men’s EHF EURO, which will feature 24 teams for the first time ever, has also started.

“In 2020, we will see 24 teams in the EHF EURO and this tournament has proved that we have the quality from the teams to sustain the growth,” concluded EHF President Wiederer.

The event in 2020 will be the first Men’s EHF EURO organised in three countries – Sweden, Austria and Norway. The organisers have announced that the EHF EURO 2020 Final will be played in front of 24,000 fans in Tele2 Arena, a multi-purpose stadium with a retractable roof in Stockholm.

written by Adrian Costeiu / cg