No mobile phones, a volcano eruption and a great development
Markus Glaser is ‘Mr. European Cup competition’. He has been at the EHF since its very beginnings when he was employed as the third-ever employee of the newly formed ‘European Handball Federation’.
In his role now, as EHF Chief Sports Officer, the Swiss is responsible for the organisation of all club competitions, including the EHF Champions League and as it celebrates its 25th birthday, Glaser gives his thoughts on the pinnacle of European club handball from its humble beginnings in 1993 right up until today.
“You cannot compare the beginning of the competition with the EHF Champions League today,” said Glaser.
“The framework of everything was different and handball looked like a different sport - we played in small arenas, for example, but from season-to-season we introduced changes and further development.
“One significant change occurred when we set new standards for the competition such as the unique floors for all the matches,” he continued. “Or the set-up for the board advertisement and the innovative technology of LED boards today.
“In parallel to this, the mutual exchange with clubs worked well, so we could adapt the playing system to the mode we have today which means we can produce great TV pictures from great arenas to offer a top product to the sports business market.”
History and technology
“It is incredible to look back on those times when no mobile phones were in use,” continued Glaser.
“In terms of matches, the finals of FC Barcelona against Badel Zagreb were the highlights for many years - matches for the handball history books.
“In more recent times, I mainly remember the eruption of the Icelandic volcano Eyjafjallajökull in March 2010, as so many teams and matches were affected. Those days cost a lot of sleep for me, and the many people involved with the games and teams.
“Recent years have also seen it become really tough to win the VELUX EHF FINAL4, as all teams have an equal level of performance.
“For example, Veszprem seemed to be closing in on winning in 2016, but they let slip a huge advance from their hands against Kielce.
“Or in 2017, when Vardar won the semi-final and then the final by a buzzer-beating goal on each occasion.
“The fact that no team could manage to defend its title since the implementation of the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in 2010, says it all about the closeness of the top clubs in Europe nowadays and the success of the competition.”Author: Bjorn Pazen / amc