EHF presents feasibility study for potential re-start of European handball
The global spread of the coronavirus has cast the shadow of doubt on the immediate future of the 2019/20 European handball season.
In the light of the pandemic and with governmental measures to fight and contain the outbreak differing across Europe, there is no certainty when matches will resume.
Given this situation, the European Handball Federation has taken on its responsibility as the governing body of European handball and presented a competition plan for a potential re-start of the European handball season.
While it remains purely theoretical for the moment being, the plan foresees matches resuming at the beginning of June 2020.
“The current situation makes it impossible to play any handball competitions for the next weeks. It’s beyond any scope of thought,” said EHF President Michael Wiederer on Wednesday.
“There are currently much more important things to focus on than to discuss possibilities for handball matches. However, there are good reasons to develop alternative scenarios. This is what we have been working on.”
The scenario outlined sees no competitions organised under the umbrella of the EHF being played in April and May, with the first matches resuming in the first week of June.
“We are fully aware that the implementation of this scenario depends on the development of the situation around the coronavirus and related governmental decisions,” said Wiederer.
“The EHF will be utmost flexible and is ready to adapt should it become necessary. In addition to this, there is awareness for challenges arising which we will have to overcome in close cooperation with all stakeholders.
“By no means does the EHF wish to give the impression that it wants to push through a competition schedule.
“Rather on the contrary we have to make sure that after the crisis the sporting situation will be clear and, at the same time, a feasible plan will be developed to be potentially introduced in case of an improved situation,” said Wiederer.
For every week the competition plan also includes a latest date until which the matches can be cancelled by the EHF. The plan also includes procedures for further qualification based on sporting results achieved in rounds already completed.
Including internal coordination with the Professional Handball Board and the Women’s Handball Board, the following overview was presented and confirmed by the EHF Executive Committee in an extraordinary meeting, organised as video conference, on Wednesday.
Summary of the decisions of the EHF Executive Committee
- It is the common approach that matches will only be played if a safe environment for everyone involved can be assured
- If rounds cannot be played and matches are cancelled, results from rounds already completed will count for further qualification upon confirmation of the EHF
- In April and May, no competitions organised under the umbrella of the EHF will be played
- The EHF FINAL4s and the MEN’S EHF Cup Finals will be postponed and moved to their alternative dates in August and September 2020 respectively
- The new competition plan outlining a potential schedule from 3 June to 5 July including qualification rounds for both men’s and women’s club and national team competitions has been confirmed by the Executive Committee
- A mandate has been given to adapt the 2019/20 handball calendar accordingly and following the development of the international sports scene, e.g. the Olympic Games and corresponding qualifications, the 2020/21 calendar may also be adapted
Overview final tournaments
- The DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 in Budapest, scheduled for 9 and 10 May 2020, will be moved to its alternative date, 5 and 6 September 2020
- The MEN’S EHF Cup Finals in Berlin, scheduled for 23 and 24 May 2020, will be moved to its alternative date, 29 and 30 August 2020.
- The VELUX EHF FINAL4 in Cologne, scheduled for 30 and 31 May, will be moved to its alternative date, 22 and 23 August 2020
The EHF Marketing GmbH and its respective teams working on the events’ organisation are already preparing the full programme and all purchased tickets for the three events will remain valid.
- The Men’s 20 EHF EURO 2020, scheduled from 2 to 12 July in Austria and Italy, as well as the corresponding Men’s 20 EHF Championships in Bosnia-Herzegovina and Latvia will be postponed to the period 13 to 23 August, parallel to the Men’s 18 EHF EURO in Slovenia and the Men’s 18 EHF Championships in Bulgaria, North Macedonia and Montenegro
Overview competition plan for June/July 2020
Week 1 (1 to 7 June)
- VELUX EHF Champions League Last 16 (first leg Wednesday/Thursday; second leg Saturday/Sunday)
- MEN’S EHF Cup Group Phase (Round 5 on Wednesday/Thursday; Round 6 on Saturday/Sunday)
- Men’s Challenge Cup Quarter-finals (first leg Wednesday/Thursday; second leg Saturday/Sunday)
- Women’s EHF EURO 2020 Qualifiers Rounds 3 to 6, played in a tournament format with all matches in one venue (Wednesday to Sunday)
The latest date for these matches to be cancelled by the EHF is 15 May 2020.
Week 2 (8 to 14 June)
- No EHF competitions planned
Week 3 (15 to 21 June)
- DELO WOMEN’S EHF Champions League Quarter-finals (first leg Wednesday/Thursday; second leg Saturday/Sunday)
- WOMEN’S EHF Cup and Women’s Challenge Cup are foreseen to be played in an EHF FINAL4 format in one venue over two playing days
- Men’s World Championship 2021 Play-offs Phase 1 (first leg Wednesday/Thursday; second leg Saturday/Sunday)
The latest date for these matches to be cancelled by the EHF is 29 May 2020.
Week 4 (22 to 28 June)
- VELUX EHF Champions League Quarter-finals (first leg Wednesday/Thursday; second leg Saturday/Sunday)
- MEN’S EHF Cup Quarter-finals (first leg Wednesday/Thursday; second leg Saturday/Sunday)
- The Men’s Challenge Cup is foreseen to be played in an EHF FINAL4 format in one venue over two playing days
The latest date for these matches to be cancelled by the EHF is 5 June 2020.
Week 5 (29 June to 5 July)
- Men’s World Championship 2021 Play-offs Phase 2 (first leg Wednesday/Thursday; second leg Saturday/Sunday)
Confirmation for these dates will be sought with the IHF. The latest date for these matches to be cancelled by the EHF is 12 June 2020.
“The European Handball Federation will continue to monitor the situation in the different countries and adapt accordingly,” concluded Michael Wiederer.