Wiederer: "DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 presents top-level event to outside world"
Prior to the finals at the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 on Sunday, ehfCL.com caught up with EHF President Michael Wiederer to hear his views on the highly successful weekend, the development of women’s handball and the future of the event.
ehfCL.com: This year the WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 has grown to new heights, with events like the opening party, performances from singer-songwriter Anastacia and the locker room show, among others. How do you view the development of the event since last year?
Michael Wiederer: It’s improving year by year. The cooperation with the Hungarian Handball Federation in that respect is really excellent. This is not a political statement – it’s the reality. I think both parties are taking profit from that, because they are improving the quality of their own events. They know how we are ticking and at the same time we can present a top-level event to the outside world, which is a big step also for us in promoting women’s handball. Also understanding that in 2022 we will have the Men’s EURO – probably in the new hall here in Budapest, which is planned. Therefore, all of these are important steps.
ehfCL.com: This year is also the first of two with title sponsor, the Delo Group. What is the significance of having a title sponsor for the WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4?
Michael Wiederer: It’s a financial input, which is useful especially for the clubs because this will be a sponsorship for the next two years. 80 per cent of the income goes back to the clubs, so a main sponsor definitely has an impact on the finances for the clubs. Plus, the fact that – what I can see and I do hope that this can be shared by others – the Delo Group is presenting an elegant, nice picture. I think that’s a good thing for women’s handball.
ehfCL.com: As this was the last year of the contract with Budapest as the host city of the WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4, discussions are now underway regarding the possible future of the event here. What can you tell us about that?
Michael Wiederer: We are in serious negotiations with the organising committee. There are still some open questions but of a minor nature. We will try, in June, to find a final agreement for that. It’s logical because for them it’s a big issue – they have to refinance certain things. We have to ensure quality. There is also one more element: The organiser is interested in a long-term agreement, with the understanding that planning is much easier or financing is much easier. At the same time, we are interested, in case of going into a long-term agreement, to make clear what’s going to happen in three or four years. It’s always easy to prolong for one year, but to look ahead, we need to work on clarification for all the details.
ehfCL.com: How does the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 reflect the development of women’s handball?
Michael Wiederer: The marketing specialists – and it’s not the EHF specialists, it’s the external partners – say that the marketing of both the club competitions, the top-level events, but especially the national team events, the EUROs, are the best ones in European women’s sport. I think it’s a positive sign overall and what we have to do is further develop that. There are two different tasks: one is to strengthen the top, and the other one is to create a sound base, not forgetting that in 2024 we will have a EURO with 24 teams. This means that we have to support the national federations with accompanying measures, environmental activities, to have more stronger teams in order to keep this top position in the sporting world. This is maybe a job we have to do, and it’s another job or it’s part of the job to take the nations with us. It’s not enough if we are running ahead – we create these top-level events, but behind us there is nothing coming on. So, the qualification matches for the EUROs, the qualification matches for the FINAL4 events – these are events which are designed by the local organisers and we need to cooperate with them in order to bring up these events.
ehfCL.com: It’s difficult to look ahead now but do you already see some ways you might like to develop the DELO WOMEN’S EHF FINAL4 for next year?
Michael Wiederer: Honestly, no. We are in the middle of the event, and we are now looking forward to the finals. After that, in five days, we will have Kiel [for the AKQUINET EHF Cup Finals], which will also be an exciting event. And rather quickly after that we will have Cologne [for the VELUX EHF FINAL4], and I think after Cologne we can start thinking about the next years for EHF FINAL4 events.