Wiederer: 'More and more teams take a chance to shine'
The 15th continental championship has passed the halfway mark in terms of the number of matches played following the conclusion of the preliminary round. While for one half of the participants the EHF EURO 2022 is already history, the rest are already preparing for the crucial main round matches in the race for the final weekend.
The 2022 tournament is the second EHF EURO edition with 24 participants. At its premiere in 2020 in Sweden, Austria and Norway the current format proved that expanding from 16 to 24 teams was the right thing to do.
"Performances of nations such as Montenegro and the Netherlands here at the Men’s EHF EURO 2022 show that the basis for top-level handball is broadening," said EHF President Michael Wiederer on the rest day before the EHF EURO returns to action with the first main round matchday.
While the early elimination of heavy favourites like France and Denmark sent shockwaves in 2020, the demanding preliminary round of the current tournament took its toll on some other established main round teams from the previous years.
Only half of the top 12 teams from two years ago have reached the main round again in 2022.
"By expanding the EHF EURO from 16 to 24 teams in 2020, the challenge for the established top nations has increased and we see more and more teams taking their chance to shine in European handball," added the EHF President.
At the same time the change of the format goes hand in hand with a revamped competition system of the European younger age categories.
"It is proof of our working grassroots system with the EHF EUROs and EHF Championships for youth and junior players every summer. This system continues to produce players capable of showing top performances at the elite level," Wiederer pointed out.
The Women's EHF EURO will also expand from 16 to 24 teams starting with the 2024 edition.