‘Mission accomplished’ for European club handball as 2021 draws to a close
When the buzzer sounded in the Polish city of Plock on Thursday night at the EHF European League Men encounter between home club Orlen Wisla and Spanish opponents Bidasoa Irun, the curtain came down on the first part of the 2021/22 season.
It was the 516th match scheduled across the six European club handball competitions organised by the European Handball Federation since the season started on 27 August with a match between RK Trimo Trebnje and TTH Holstebro in the EHF European League Men.
At the same time, it was no less than the 510th match played as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to pose major challenges to sports federations and the organisation of pan-European sport events.
“Two years ago, we may have regarded organising such a high number of matches in Europe as part of our normal day-to-day business,” says EHF President Michael Wiederer.
“The pandemic has literally erased the word ‘normal’ from our vocabulary. The circumstances of any European handball match may change within hours these days, and the challenges that come with this have multiplied.”
In the EHF Champions League Men (80 matches) and the DELO EHF Champions League (64) all scheduled matches were played.
In the men’s and women’s EHF European League, 173 out of 174 matches (127 men’s and 46 women’s games) were played, with Pfadi Winterthur vs Füchse Berlin currently postponed but set to be scheduled when the men’s club competitions resume in February 2022.
112 out of 116 matches have been played in the EHF European Cup Men as two clubs withdrew for Covid-19 reasons prior to their respective encounters. In the women’s competition, the match HRK Grude vs Sokol Pisek was decided in only one game, thus 81 out of 82 matches scheduled were played.
“It is the core business of the European Handball Federation to organise and manage Europe’s most high-profile and competitive handball competitions, and as we look back at the first part of the 2021/22 season we can say with pride: ‘Mission accomplished’,” says Michael Wiederer.
Excitement guaranteed when club handball returns
The women’s club handball competitions return on the second weekend in January 2022 when round 9 of the DELO EHF Champions League, round 1 of the EHF European League Women group phase and the Last 16 first leg matches in the EHF European Cup are scheduled.
The men’s club teams enjoy a longer break due to the Men’s EHF EURO 2022 in Hungary and Slovakia from 13 to 30 January.
The Last 16 in the EHF European Cup Men is scheduled for 12 and 13 February before the EHF European League returns on 15 February and the EHF Champions League one day later.
In the men’s top-flight only two points separate the top three teams in both groups after 10 rounds.
In group A, first-ranked Montpellier HB have 16 points while Aalborg Håndbold and Pick Szeged have 14 points each.
It is even closer in group B in which Lomza Vive Kielce are first with 14 points but Paris Saint-Germain Handball, Telekom Veszprém HC and Barça are trailing right behind with 12 points each.
“It is great to see that the clubs deliver what they are – so to say – responsible for: The weekly top performances as well as the thrill, drama, excitement and amazing matches which the fans of European handball long for,” says Michael Wiederer.
“I am really looking forward to the second part of the 2021/22 season.”