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22.06.2012, 15:02
New challenge for new EHF President
«Go back »Print Version


Jean Brihault speaks to eurohandball.com about his mission following his election in Monaco
 

New challenge for new EHF President

Jean Brihault became only the third president of the European Handball Federation on Friday, 22 June 2012, following his election at the 11th EHF Congress in Monaco.

A former rugby and handball player, the Frenchman from Rennes played in the second French league with his team Club Cercle Paul Bert, and was also a referee at the highest level in France for 15 years.

He became an EHF delegate in 1993. He was elected to the EHF Executive in 2000, before becoming Vice President in 2004.

Ahead of his election, eurohandball.com spoke to Jean Brihault about the federations achievements and challenges going forward.

“Handball has reached a level in Europe, which we couldn’t have dreamt of 20 years ago,” he said. “This is wonderful but we shouldn’t be complacent. There are still major issues to tackle.”

Women's handball is a key issue

According to Brihault, the EHF has achieved much with the national teams events including the Men’s and Women’s EHF European Championships as well as the Men’s VELUX EHF Champions League.

“We need to continue to work on our strengths,” he said. “Women’s handball is a key issue we need to work on though.”

The proposed establishment of a Women’s Handball Board, a proposal put forward to Congress by the EHF, which would see an additional place on the EHF Executive, representing women’s handball is a step in the right direction in  Brihault’s opinion.

“If successful this body will also need to evolve in the future to become more like the Professional Handball Board we have in the men’s game. Right now the women’s game is in a different place.”

He continued: “The gap between women’s and men’s handball has grown in recent years partly because of the rapid development of men’s handball, through major events such as the VELUX EHF FINAL4.”

“It is at a club level where we have an issue in particular. Clubs find it difficult finding sponsors and getting on television.

“Women’s handball is a fantastic product, and could be very attractive to a major sponsor, but we need to do this without creating a caricature of femininity. I’m totally against idea of pink floors and playing with flowers in their hair, this is not what we need,” he said.

‘Nice problems'

Brihault sees other challenges for as the sport grows.

“The playing halls in Europe are too small as the sport grows, for example we could have sold twice as many tickets for the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne than we had available. It is an issue for indoor sports not just handball," he said.

“We also need to think about administrative structure, think of new infrastuctures, especially in our office in Vienna, where the office building is too small for our needs.

“These are nice problems to have in some ways, but problems which do have to be faced. Put simply, handball has outgrown its clothes,” he added.

Traditional values

“Handball has become major sport, we have created major events, but at same time the sport has preserved its traditional values,” Brihault said.

“Of course we need money to do things, but this is invested back into the sport and we have kept to our fundamental values. My experience from the Executive over the past 12 years, is that people really care about the players, coaches and official. This is something I like about the EHF," he said.

Election as President

Tor Lian and Jean Brihault were elected together in 2004 – from the outset they wanted to work together as a team.

“Tor involved me from the beginning in all the issues and we had a really great cooperation, speaking at least once or twice a day on the phone.

“We have developed a sincere friendship, which I know will also continue in the future. Our families have got to know each other and it is a sports-friendship that will last a lifetime.”

Initially Brihault and Lian had hoped that their teamwork would continue until the next election in 2016.

“Tor decided to finish early and this was not to be,” said Brihault. “However, both Tor and the EHF Executive encouraged me to put myself forward.”

Jean Brihault was the only candidate running for the EHF Presidency, a situation that Brihault sees as a potitive affirmation of his decision to stand.

“For me the fact that there is nobody standing against me is not a sign of disinterest but a vote of confidence from member nations. “

Asked about what he will bring to the role of president, Jean Brihult, said: “I really believe in team work. I can define the issues, but I don’t want to have all the answers, not at this stage. I believe the role of the president is to facilitate the debate and listen to what all sides have to say.”

Jean Brihault was elected by a majority vote on Friday, 22 June 2012 and will serve on the Executive as EHF President until 2016.


TEXT: EHF
 
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