Whilst primarily overseeing the good governance of handball in Europe, the EHF Executive Committee remains dedicated to the forging and realisation of strategic growth in its various configurations, and 2018 was no different.
Following a tender process in 2017, the first half of 2018 was characterised by an intense period of negotiations that resulted in the finalisation of a long-term media and marketing agreement with Infront and DAZN, announced in May.
The year quickly became one of forward-thinking as the EHF Executive Committee prepared for the development curve .scheduled to begin in 2020 when the new partnership starts.
But that was not all the EHF Executive Committee dealt with over the course of a year which started with the Men’s EHF EURO in Croatia and finished with the Women’s EHF EURO in France.
These were just two of many memorable events in 2018 in which the EHF experienced its most successful year in terms of development across the board in competition, marketing and promotion.
The governing body intensified its engagement with national federations, intervening in several situations and authorising proposals that led to improvement in the governance of the sport at the national level.
Also, the face of the Executive Committee changed with the departure of Professional Handball Board (PHB) Chairman, Xavier O’Callaghan, who served the committee for two years, replaced by Gerd Butzeck.
Represented on the Finance Delegation are the president, vice president finance, secretary general and chief finance officer; it meets four times a year. The Finance Delegation oversees the financial activities of the organisation, ensuring transparency and upholding its financial integrity. In a secondary function, it also acts as the Advisory Board to EHF Marketing GmbH. In 2018, among other tasks, the group ratified the results of the accounting procedures performed by the internal and external oversight parties, before submitting the documents to the EHF Executive Committee and, subsequently, at the 2018 EHF Congress in Glasgow.
Consisting of the chairs of the federation’s technical commissions including the Competitions, Methods and Beach Handball Commissions as well as the responsible staff members from the EHF Office, the Technical Delegation also acts as the CAN Advisory Board. It serves as a coordination body and in 2018 dealt with topics including the rules of the game and the further development of the use of technology in game administration.
2018 saw over 900 matches played in EHF men’s, women’s and youth national and club handball competitions, and the EHF Competitions Commission is pleased to announce that the majority of the matches were played without any issues, once again highlighting the smooth operations behind the scenes which allow 100s of players to shine in the global spotlight.
The breadth of responsibility within the EHF Competitions Commissions means the work of the members is continuous, including the open-ended reform in the area of Younger Age Category events, anti-doping initiatives, and close cooperation with the Methods Commission and Technical Referee Commission for the education of EHF officials.
Over the past 12 months, the EHF Competitions Commission has submitted over 40 recommendations and motions to the EHF Executive Committee aimed at improving the standards of competitions at all levels. This has been reflected in the stability of playing systems, and in other areas that benefit the players – for example, regulating the distance between playing venues and hotels.
Another key focus for the EHF Competitions Commission was finding the optimal international calendar solution for all handball stakeholders, an endeavour which, like many others, will continue in 2019.
The Technical Refereeing Committee (TRC) is a think tank for the EHF Competitions Committee in refereeing matters with special focus on referee education and activities. The TRC members are nominated by the EHF Executive Committee. It consists of six members and is chaired by Dragan Nachevski (MKD), member of the EHF Competitions Commission responsible for refereeing. The committee includes the following members: Jiri Konecny (CZE) – responsible for the young referee programme; Jutta Ehrmann-Wolf (GER) – responsible for female refereeing; Oyvind Togstad (NOR); Miroslaw Baum (POL) and Antonio Marreiros (POR).
The EHF Methods Commission continued to develop handball at an educational and technological level in 2018.
One particular highlight was the EHF Master Coach Course with topics such as proprioceptive work and plyometric exercise in handball, positioning, transitioning, and perception covered across three modules in the cities of Poreč (CRO), Győr (HUN) and Créteil (FRA). In addition, 17 national Master Coach courses will help the EHF RINCK Convention signatories to achieve the commonly set goal of 1000 Master Coaches (850 PRO Licences) in 2020.
Many other courses and seminars for both indoor and beach handball were also held across Europe for referees, delegates and club managers.
Another highlight was activity in the area of wheelchair handball, culminating in the 3rd EHF European Wheelchair Handball Tournament in Leiria, Portugal in November. The Methods Commission hosted a two-day working group where topics such as rules of the game, classification for players and a nations tournament were discussed.
At the beginning of 2018 the Beach Handball Commission aspired to repeat the success of 2017 and by the end of the year the Commission managed to exceed its own expectations. The keyword was ‘growth’ and that was reflected as each beach handball competition saw an increase in the number of participants.
Compared to when the Beach Handball Commission was founded 10 years ago, in 2008, the number of active senior beach handball players has doubled.
Beach handball has developed in many new areas, with goal-line technology successfully implemented during the 2018 EHF Men’s and Women’s European Beach Handball Championships and the sport formally allocated a national team week on the EHF calendar - previously reserved for indoor handball.
Beach handball will also debut as a European University Sports Association (EUSA) sport, with the first EUSA-EHF European Beach Handball Championship to be held in Zagreb in 2019.
The Beach Handball Commission also made waves with its #dontworrybeachhappy campaign that spread across all the major social media platforms in summer 2018.
2019 will see the Beach Handball Commission integrating more match technologies, where appropriate, and focus on the matter of media exposure in a bid to maintain the positive momentum.
The sustainability of the EHF and EHFM organisations are at the forefront of the activities of the supervisory EHF Comptrollers and, as mandated, they convened in Vienna earlier this year to undertake their annual examination of the accounts of 2017 which were officially concluded, in cooperation with authorised external auditor.
The EHF Comptrollers work in close cooperation with the EHF Finance Delegation, including making recommendations, which for example, in 2018, resulted in a change of compensation process for EHF officials nominated to events.
In their second function as a Comptrollers Council of EHF Marketing GmbH (EHFM), the finances for the year 2017/18 were examined in October, and with the changes within the EHFM structure, this was undertaken in the presence and in cooperation with the men’s and women’s club representatives.
In June, the EHF Congress confirmed Robert Prettenthaler as the second EHF Comptroller, following the departure of Jutta Ehrmann-Wolff that led to the activation of the substitute comptroller; and with the election of Thomas Ludewig (GER), the trio of EHF Comptrollers was once again complete.
Although a change in the IHF Regulations led to a decrease in the number of cases submitted before the Court of Handball in the 2016/17 season, the spike in the number of cases in the 2017/18 season was attributed to the process of ‘on-site’ handling of legal cases at EHF EURO events.
This new system was implemented in January 2018 at the Men’s EHF EURO in Croatia, meaning that the COH handled 57 cases in the 2017/18 season with red cards and unsportsmanlike conduct accounting for 45% of all cases and regulation breaches 10%.
Other case matters included, but were not limited to, marketing, security and player eligibility.
The undertakings of the Court of Appeal were similar to that of the previous season; however, a notable change was the confirmation of the appointment of a ninth member to the Court of Appeal with the 2016 election of Ketevan Koberidze (GEO) confirmed at the EHF Congress in Glasgow in June 2018.
The 2017/18 season saw a three-fold increase in cases compared to the previous season with the number of first instance cases (approx. 15%) appealed to the second instance remaining stable and upholding the efficiency of the Court of Handball.
The ECA Council's main responsibility is to safeguard the independence of ECA. Hence, it handles the general organisation and administration of ECA, its representation towards the EHF Congress, reviews, assesses and subsequently appoints the list of arbitrators, appoints substitute arbitrators within the course of proceedings and may take various procedural decisions such as interim measures.
In 2018, the EHF Court of Arbitration welcomed Wouter Lambrecht as the third ECA Vice President; his nomination was submitted on behalf of the stakeholders via the Professional Handball Board to ensure a fair representation of the stakeholder groups.
The ECA, an independent body and an alternative to the civil court system, conducts all proceedings in conformity with the EHF Statutes.
In the 2017/18 season, the ECA were called upon to review and adjudicate three cases, compared to no cases in the previous season.
Going into 2019, responding parties involved in proceedings at any level have access to a pool of 64 independently-qualified and competent legal arbitrators to select from.
The list of arbitrators, along with the Initiator of Proceedings, is a further element that upholds the integrity of legal activities in the sport.
The Legal Delegation meets annually to ensure a coordination and consistency between the three legal bodies: EHF Court of Handball, Court of Appeal and Court of Arbitration. The body is made up of the presidents of the three legal bodies in addition to the EHF’s legal management staff members.
The primary EHF stakeholder group representing the national member federations, Nations Board held two official meetings in 2018, presenting all the EHF activities which have a specific relation to the 50 member, and two associated, federations that form the EHF.
From national team events to changes in organisational regulations, the Nations Board was privy to the latest developments within the EHF and had the opportunity to give feedback and make recommendations to the EHF Executive Committee or bring information and suggestions to the Professional Handball Board, where the national federations are also represented.
With many changes ahead for the EHF and its members from 2020, when the new long-term media and marketing agreement with Infront and DAZN commences, members of the Nations Board were invited to be part of working groups such as ‘EHF Structure 2020+’ which eventually presented recommendations to the EHF Congress, and which were subsequently ratified.
The Nations Board also significantly contributed its input on the matter of the international calendar - a process continuing into 2019.
The PHB is a collective of prominent handball stakeholders including National Federations, clubs, leagues and players which brings the various voices to the table where important and intricate issues are discussed.
Firmly embedded into the EHF structure, the PHB meets twice a year to openly debate competitions, welfare of athletes, media, marketing, the international calendar and other matters of influence with the majority of topics on the agenda complex in nature and returning to the agenda time and again.
In 2018, the Professional Handball Board welcomed Gregor Planteu (SLO – MFCH President), Nikolas Larsson (SWE - EHLB Chairman), and Frank Bohmann (GER – EHLB Vice Chairman).
The group also held an election process for the position of chairman vacated by Xavier O’Callaghan with Gerd Butzeck elected as Chairman and Nikolas Larsson elected to the position of vice chairman, with the roles effective from their next meeting, in March 2019.
The Women’s Handball Board (WHB) is committed to the betterment of women contributing to handball in all its different facets, including development, dual careers, education and much more – and 2018 was no different.
Working closely with the EHF Competence Academy & Network (EHF CAN), the WHB had numerous successes over the past year, including supporting the educational goals of 25 female participants through various courses, a handball ambassador project which made progress before and during the Women’s EHF EURO in France with multiple promotional activities, and a mobile reporter project, in conjunction with EHF Media and Communications.
All the activities will continue into 2019 – adding to the 10 projects in the pipeline for the coming year.
In 2018, the EHF introduced a newly-configured league stakeholder, the European Handball League Board (EHLB) in response to efforts to strengthen the stakeholder group ‘leagues’.
The main focus of the EHLB is to work on a close level with European leagues on various aspects and facilitate an exchange of information on a wide range of topics such as media, events, licensing, best practice and new business models.
The EHLB is a group within the EHF structure comparable to the Nations Board.
The inaugural General Assembly of the European Handball Leagues was held at the end of June and was followed by a brief initial meeting of the EHLB which preceded a second meeting in September, prior to the meeting of the EHF Executive Committee.
Nikolas Larsson (SWE) and Frank Bohmann (GER) were respectively elected to the positions of chairman and vice chairman.