25/01/2020

Seven players form the team for the future of European handball

INTERVIEW: EHF President Michael Wiederer explains the European Handball Master Plan, which was presented at the Conference of Presidents in Stockholm

EHF President Michael Wiederer presented the European Handball Master Plan at the Conference of Presidents. Photo © Uros Hocevar / kolektiff

The major topic on the agenda of the Conference of Presidents in Stockholm was the presentation of the first ever European Handball Master Plan. This strategy is - besides the new marketing and media agreement with Infront and the DAZN Group for the years 2020 until 2030 - the core of the development of European handball.

This master plan covers seven major topics, represented by the seven positions in handball. In several meetings with all stakeholders from February until June 2020, all major groups of European handball will be involved to give their input before the master plan is approved by the EHF Executive Committee at its meeting in June.

In this interview, EHF President Michael Wiederer talks about the general strategy, the seven players and the pathway to the European Handball Master Plan.

ehf-euro.com: What is the intention of this master plan?

Michael Wiederer: After signing the contract for the 2020 to 2030 marketing and media agreement with Infront and DAZN in Cologne in May 2018 and after a highly successful tender process, we had the idea for this master plan as a whole strategy for the development of European handball in the upcoming years. Since 2019, we have been cooperating with an experienced consultant to create this strategic plan, who has previously managed similar projects for volleyball and basketball.

ehf-euro.com: Which stakeholders are involved in the process?

Michael Wiederer: Looking ahead, we have planned a number of meetings and workshops with clubs, federations, players and leagues from January to June we will discuss the planned projects, measures and provisions, which will bring the master plan to life and finalise the goals for the seven players. We want to have all stakeholders under one umbrella. One major step towards the master plan will be a workshop during the Conference of Secretaries General in Slovakia in April, on the fringes of the draw of the qualification groups for the Men’s EHF EURO 2022.

ehf-euro.com: What was the basis on which the master plan was built?

Michael Wiederer: The master plan was prepared through huge surveys. For example, we interviewed 4,500 fans across 10 key markets all over Europe to find out how they consume handball, what they do at matches, how they like handball, and how they use digital media to follow matches and players. In addition, we surveyed media, partners and officials on which topics should be on the agenda for the next years. Besides, we are in the process of developing a new brand programme, which does not only include an adaptation of the logo, but the whole strategy of what European handball shall stand for in future. It is about the core and the soul of our sport, including the aim of becoming the most attractive team sport in Europe.

ehf-euro.com: What is the plan’s main goal?

Michael Wiederer: One of our main goals is to create added value for handball. Many factors will have an impact on this, like fan interest, digitalisation, future media platforms – things we might not even know about now. And we have to have different concepts for different markets, as for example the handball market in Germany is different to the one in Luxembourg. We have to work on and with the market, as by 2027 at the latest we have to start another tender process. The implementation of the master plan is a job for the whole handball family, not just the EHF office or the EHF’s different bodies.

ehf-euro.com: What do the seven players stand for?

Michael Wiederer: When you look at the seven players, you will see completely different goals. It is about the development of the game in general, how to use flagship events for promotion and to increase revenue, the importance of grassroots handball in all age groups and all nations for growth, or how to attract more fans by multi-channel communication. In the end, handball is a team sport, and the seven players must work as a team and move the team on through their individual performances.

These are the seven players which make up the “team” for the European Handball Master Plan and the topics they stand for:

Centre back: the game (player environment, technology use for officials and fans, rules & regulations, competition structures)

Left back: highlight events (hosting standards, entertainment, highest standards of TV production to ensure best possible coverage for viewers, legacy for the hosting countries, strengthen the presence of handball at major multi-sport events)

Right back: fan appeal (digital marketing to engage with more fans beyond EHF channels, entertain and make the game more attractive through engaging content, channel strategy, rights distribution to maximise reach, new EHF website with all content on one platform from July 2020, new EHF app)

Left wing: grassroots growth (life-long handball, youth handball, handball workforce to create more opportunities for officiating and volunteering, be a truly pan-European sport through development of handball in key markets)

Line player: strengthening networks (provide stakeholders with resources and expertise to deliver growth, share best practice and pass knowledge from event organiser to organiser, develop the knowledge, skills and expertise of the handball workforce, improve interaction, cooperation & partnerships with external institutions)

Goalkeeper: good governance (democracy and transparent organisation, integrity and high ethical standards, heritage and sustainability through sport & CSR programmes)

Right wing: commercial success (EHF partner programme, higher revenues from ticketing and hospitality, new business activities and funding opportunities, increase revenue from media and marketing rights)

written by Björn Pazen / jh