Why 24 teams play in 2020

16 has been the standard number of participating teams at Men’s EHF EURO events since 2002, and it was so up until the EHF EURO 2018 in Croatia.

However, to shape the federation’s flagship event in the future, on 19/20 September 2014 the EHF Congress unanimously voted in favour of a motion submitted by the EHF that proposed to have the Men’s EHF EURO played with 24 teams as of 2022 and potentially already as of 2020.

“The idea of the EHF EURO of/for the entire European handball family is gaining more and more shape. An EHF EURO shall be a festival for all European handball nations,” the motion read.

“A crucial milestone in a new decade shall be taken by proposing the following innovations for Men’s EHF EUROs as of 2022 or 2020: 24 participating teams, a new playing format, new organisation system, advanced awarding procedure.”

The year 2020 was mentioned because the three nations that bid for the event in 2020, Sweden, Austria and Norway, had agreed – in case their bid received the majority of Congress votes – to stage the tournament with 24 teams.

More matches, new markets

“Providing eight more nations with the chance to gain funds and subsidies from governmental, national, regional and municipal authorities for their participation in a major event,” was another reason in favour of the expansion mentioned in the motion.

This was followed by: “Presenting additional matches to the market opens additional income possibilities from TV and advertising rights as well as other features; it also means that access to new markets can be gained and additional potential for markets can be used.”

In the new format there will be 65 instead of 47 matches played over 15 days. The tournament will start with six groups of four teams each, with the two top-ranked teams from each group qualifying for the two main round groups, which will still consist of six teams each.

As was the case with the old system, semi-finals and finals will follow the main round and will be played in one venue over a final weekend (Friday to Sunday).

Sweden, Austria, Norway successfully bid for EHF EURO 2020 with 24 teams.