ehf-euro.com: How do you look back on the EHF EURO 2010 in Denmark and Norway?
Michael Wiederer: It was an exciting EHF EURO. For me personally it was the 18th big EHF EURO - including both women and men. It was also the third Women´s EHF EURO that was held in Denmark.
From our point of view it was a tremendous success. Full halls and enthusiastic crowds in both Norway and Denmark have proved impressively that the women´s handball is very healthy.
ehf-euro.com: What does an EHF EURO mean to the EHF?
Michael Wiederer: The Women´s and Men´s European Championships are the core business of the EHF in the field of national team events. Therefore the EHF EUROs were once called ”Handball´s window to the world” by one of our National Federation Secretary Generals. I find this a very nice expression.
Our club competitions are running all year, with many great handball events and activities, but the EHF EUROs are different as they take place within a very short and intense period with great public interest in the events.
ehf-euro.com: What was new this year at EHF EURO 2010?
Michael Wiederer: Technically not too much was new, as the EHF have developed certain standards for their tournaments, from the project, the procedures, the competitions, through to the branding of halls and venues we had lots of experience from previous events.
What was new in both the men´s and women´s EHF EUROs in 2010 in Austria and in Denmark and Norway respectively, was that we saw a very enthusiastic and interested crowd for every single day of the tournament.
This is proof that it is possible within a short period of time to motivate people to go to the sport halls - as long as the product is interesting.
ehf-euro.com: Are Norway worthy winners this year?
Michael Wiederer: Yes, definitely. Norway - similar to France on a men´s level - have become a candidate for gold in every competition. From my point of view, and this also corresponds to the position of the coaches, to win a European Championship title is the most valuable one in terms of sporting challenge, because there are almost no matches which you can be sure you will win.
Norway were favourites for the EHF EURO 2010, and except for the one defeat against Sweden in the Main Round they proved to be real champions.
ehf-euro.com: Sweden have done fantastically well this year to get to the final of EHF EURO 2010.
Michael Wiederer: Yes, they have. Sweden came to this championship known as a physically strong team, very aggressive in their defence, but not many experts expected them to go through to the finals. I believe that Sweden are the big surprise of the EHF EURO 2010.
ehf-euro.com: How has women´s handball developed in the last few years?
Michael Wiederer: In 1994 the EHF started the ”Women´s Handball” project which resulted in more female referees, female coaches and female delegates in order to strengthen women´s handball.
We always run all our competitions at the same time, no matter if it is a younger age category, adults, or beach handball. Within the last two to three years, especially in the men´s EHF Champions League there has been a big development. So the structure there is a bit different.
EHF EURO 2010 was very important to us at the EHF in order to prove that in women´s handball there is a good chance for further development, and that it can catch up with men´s handball. The European Handball Federation is very proud to have such strong men´s and women´s handball.
ehf-euro.com: What do you expect from the next Women´s EHF EURO; the Netherlands 2012?
Michael Wiederer: We are in the middle of a project with the National Federation of the Netherlands that started two years ago. We are optimistic because of different reasons; firstly, there is a good tradition in the Netherlands with Women´s handball and secondly, on a sporting level they started several projects, especially in the younger age category.
Also their women´s national team, who we could see perform here at EHF EURO 2010, is a young and promising team.
I expect the Netherlands to continue to work hard on both a sporting and organisational level and another advantage is that the Netherlands are situated very centrally in Europe, so we can expect fans from various countries to attend which is a positive element for every championship.