“Barça are an example to follow in European handball”
Out of the 12 seasons the EHF FINAL4 has been played, Barça holds the record for the most participations, with the 2021 edition being their ninth. And the team from Barcelona could write even more history by winning their tenth Champions League trophy this afternoon, when they face Aalborg in the final at 18:00 CEST.
“This number tells more than anything else that Barça are part of the DNA of the Champions League. And this, independently of the results,” says Michael Wiederer, EHF President.
Barça has promoted handball for a very long time. In fact, “Mes que un Club”, (more than a club), the mantra for the multi-sports team, resonates, with five major sports represented under the FCB banner: football, basketball, handball, roller hockey and futsal.
“It makes us unique in the world,” confirms Joan Laporta, FC Barcelona President. “We cooperate with our fans, with our supporters, who love all these sports. We have to offer them a great show, because that’s what they expect.”
The show has become a prevalent element in today’s handball, with the fans being excited not only about what happens on the court but also by what is going on behind the scenes. Wiederer is adamant that the future, for handball powerhouses, will also be directed by clubs’ ability to offer more than just a handball game.
“We need to motivate clubs to have the best possible venues, so that fans do not only come for the game, but also the show and everything else around the game. If you have a good facility, like Barça do, you can entertain with what is going on on the court, but also around the court,” Wiederer says.
And that implies looking ahead and not only focusing on the present season. Laporta, just about 100 days after taking back his seat as FC Barcelona president, has already made some drastic changes regarding the team which will present his club next season.
“We are very grateful for what coach Xavi Pascual and some of the players have done for this club. But we need to renovate, to give a new impulse to Barça, so it can remain on top of European handball. We set up a very competitive team and I am excited about the future,” he explains.
But these changes will only affect Barça in the summer. The future, for now, is the EHF FINAL4 final, this afternoon, against Aalborg.
The final is the end to a season impacted by Covid-19, but Wiederer sees light at the end of the tunnel.
“I would like to thank all the clubs of both Champions Leagues for the effort to support us. It was a very tough season for the clubs but we managed, all together, to see it through. We are on the road to normality and I can already see the FINAL4 2022 being a big party,” he believes.
With 1,000 fans in the stands, the party already started yesterday, and will end tonight when either Aalborg or Barça will win the trophy.
“Barça have a successful history in the Champions League and we want to keep it going. I’m sure Aalborg will play a very good game, as a team, but I’m confident our players will do their best in order to win the final,” concludes Laporta.