“Very optimistic for the next women’s events”

ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: What do you think of the first EHF Women’s EURO organized in three countries?

Michael Wiederer: The three hosts have organized this tournament at a high level. It makes sense to divide a tournament like this into several countries, especially in terms of viewership. It was already worth it in the men’s EHF EURO 2020 and 2022 events, and we’ll see it again for the women in 2024, when 24 teams will start for the first time. In terms of quality we have seen some good teams and top games, of course the usual suspects of the last decade are on the pitch on the final day, with the return of Montenegro surprising the most.

ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: Have you seen any other sporting surprises?

Michael Wiederer: We saw a lot of good news teams: the Slovenian women have never finished a tournament so successfully, they beat the Danish finalists and held off the other Norwegian finalists for a long time. Switzerland scored a point in their first EHF EURO tournament. We can therefore be very optimistic for the next women’s events. Overall, the density among the first teams of this EHF EURO was so high that it was difficult to predict who would do what. Many top teams have had problems against supposedly weaker teams. In a European Championship, you have to perform well in every game.

ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: Will the increase from 16 to 24 teams in 2024 help the development of women’s handball in Europe?

Michael Wiederer: The EHF has been and is very careful in adapting the competitions, we don’t want to give an opportunistic signal “We are doing something”, but look very carefully at the markets and the quality of the teams. That’s what we’ve done in the EHF Champions League competitions, that’s how we’ve done it for future Women’s EHF EURO events. Now is the time to play with 24 teams in women’s tournaments from 2024 as well. The new system with a short preliminary round and a difficult main round will once again ensure that the best teams play for the title.

ehfeuro.eurohandball.com: During this EHF EURO 2022, we noticed that many young players were in the spotlight – is this already the harvest of the EHF Respect your Talent programme?

Michael Wiederer: We are very happy to see these young players because they had already shown their talent during the W17 and W19 European Championships. It now depends on how they pursue their careers with their clubs and national teams. The fact is that the first step in this program is not to improve performance, but rather that potential future players gain a broad understanding of our sport and their own careers. They are trained for challenges and learn from stars and veteran players. The Respect your Talent project is a great success. It also ensures that we can involve former top players.