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28.05.2018, 15:00
A "pure success" and a ground-breaking contract
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INTERVIEW: EHF President Michael Wiederer reflects on the VELUX EHF FINAL4 2018 in Cologne, which has made the headlines both on and off the court

»EHF CL Channel »2017-18 Men's CL
»Final Four
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A "pure success" and a ground-breaking contract

It is the symbolic ‘final whistle’ of an EHF European Cup season when the EHF President hands over the trophy of the VELUX EHF Champions League.

On Sunday night, Michael Wiederer presented Montpellier HB with the coveted trophy, surrounded by confetti rain in the sold-out LANXESS arena in Cologne.

In this interview with ehfCL.com, Wiederer talks about the ninth edition of the VELUX EHF FINAL4. And about the future, which looks bright after the signing of a historic 10-year TV and marketing rights contract with Infront and Perform.

ehfCL.com: The 25th European Cup season came to an end in Cologne on Sunday, with Montpellier winning the VELUX EHF FINAL4 at the third major tournament in two weeks. What is your conclusion?

Michael Wiederer: Looking back on those events, we saw two thrilling FINAL4 tournaments at the end of the anniversary season of the Champions League, which were a great promotion for handball. The women’s tournament in Budapest was a highlight, and now Cologne was the thrilling end of this season. In-between we witnessed a great atmosphere at the EHF Cup Finals in Magdeburg. So I am fully satisfied with the final stages of this anniversary season.

ehfCL.com: What are your major impressions of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne?

Michael Wiederer: Again we saw many surprises on court. For the ninth time we were in Cologne and it was definitely not the first time that an underdog won the trophy. Look back on the triumphs of Hamburg, Flensburg, Vardar or Kielce, for example. We saw four thrilling matches, including a great final. But for me, the most positive aspect was the atmosphere: More than 18,000 fans cheered for the teams. No matter where they came from, there was great support from the stands. As we all could see we had an audience of experts, who love our sport.

Besides the high-level handball, Cologne again proved its significance as the traditional meeting point for the whole handball community. For example, the Forum Club Handball held its General Assembly and we as the EHF extended the Memorandum of Understanding with the European Players’ Union for four more years. The FINAL4 again stood for innovation as we saw at the ‘European Handball Talks’ business event. Mentioning all those aspects, I truly can say that the ninth edition of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 was a pure success.

ehfCL.com: Also, the biggest ever contract in handball history – between EHF, EHF Marketing, Infront and Perform – has been signed in Cologne. Is it already a tradition to announce the biggest milestones of development on the fringes of the VELUX EHF FINAL4?

Michael Wiederer: Yes, that is true. The same occurs at final weekends of European Championships. We have all stakeholders together, the ‘who’s who’ of handball is there, and we have a great platform as all major media are easy to reach.

ehfCL.com: In your opinion, what is the key point for the development of handball in the 10-year TV and marketing rights contract?

Michael Wiederer: On the one hand it is a huge amount of money the EHF can redistribute to the various stakeholders of European handball. But in the end it is much more than this. We create more content, reach new target groups, will have new - mainly digital - platforms to popularise handball all over the world. For example, we will have coverage of an EHF W17 EURO which we never had before. In this case we are not talking about money, but about spreading handball, giving fans the opportunity to watch those matches and even to interact on the new platforms. The contract is based on many factors: free-TV, pay-TV, livestreaming, OTT – a perfect setup for a successful future. And to have such strong partners as Perform and Infront at our side, we will have the chance for major development in all fields.

ehfCL.com: The new contract is valid from 2020 – what will be the major tasks until then?

Michael Wiederer: All major contracts of EHF and EHF Marketing terminate in 2020, this is no coincidence. After we have signed this new, revolutionary contract with Perform and Infront, we will all start to do our homework in order to go on the market with all those new options of marketing and media rights. When 2020 comes, we will be ready for a new era.

 


TEXT: Björn Pazen / ew
 
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