"Proof that we are going in the right direction"
A packed, atmospheric Papp László Budapest Sportaréna; spectacular shows; a headline pre-final performance from John Newman; and of course, four spectacular matches: the Women’s EHF FINAL4 2018 was a stellar success that showed the event is going from strength to strength.
With the 25th anniversary of the Women’s EHF Champions League in 2019 approaching, EHF President Michael Wiederer is more than satisfied with how the competition has developed.
Speaking with ehfCL.com in Budapest, Wiederer outlined the importance of the event for women’s handball globally, commended the high-level organisation by the Hungarian Handball Federation, and looked forward to the future.
ehfCL.com: How does the 2018 edition of the Women’s EHF FINAL4 measure up with the success of previous events?
Michael Wiederer: It is further development of the Women’s Champions League finals. They have come a long way, starting in a big hall looking for spectators, looking for entertainment, and we were always looking at the same time for a high-level sporting event. Now, I think we found the platform, and today’s programme, what I have seen, is at a very high level. All the spectators are in the hall – although they are mainly Hungarian spectators, they are in their seats as well for the match for third place, so it is proof that we are going in the right direction.
ehfCL.com: What do you think of the events organised on the fringe of the Women’s EHF FINAL4, for example, the Junior FINAL4?
Michael Wiederer: For me it is a very good initiative of the Hungarian Federation to have this festival, and to have accompanying events. It is also proof that it is not an isolated event, it is a package, and this makes it interesting for people.
ehfCL.com: What can you tell us about the media interest this year?
Michael Wiederer: We know there is a new record for broadcasting stations and territories. We really appreciate that as well, because we need to work hard for the further development of women’s handball. It is not easy to create top-level teams. You have to start from a certain basis. The grassroots activities of the organiser are excellent on one hand, but on the other we need the coverage worldwide to strengthen women’s handball.
ehfCL.com: How does the EHF FINAL4 fit with the global picture of women’s handball?
Michael Wiederer: The FINAL4 tournaments are showcases, both on the men’s and women’s side. I can see today many people coming from all kinds of directions. I think it is motivating people, it’s motivating young players. I remember when we started the Men’s FINAL4 in Cologne there was a certain discussion among people, who said ‘Oh, but we like home matches.’ Nowadays, if you ask a player in the Champions League, he or she always says: ‘I want to go to Cologne. I want to go to Budapest.’ So, this is a target, and therefore, it is an important highlight overall – not only for club handball.
ehfCL.com: What about the future of the event?
Michael Wiederer: We have one more year in Budapest. The Hungarian Federation expressed their interest to continue the organisation. It is a bit different than it is in Cologne where we are the organiser. Here we have a local organiser, but they are doing a very good job, so let’s see. We will have talks with them and we will see what’s coming after 2019.
TEXT: Courtney Gahan / ew