The 41st General Assembly of the European Olympic Committees (EOC) decided in Rome on Saturday, 8 December 2012, that the first European Games will take place in Baku, Azerbaijan in June 2015.
Former EHF President Tor Lian was member of a working group, producing a feasibility study for the European Games. The Professional Handball Board (PHB) was informed about the ongoing negotiations.
EHF President Jean Brihault gave a remarkable on the issue (you find the full version on the www.eurohandball.com):
eurohandball.com: What role has the EHF played in the development of the European Games?
Jean Brihault: The EOC has said from the start that it wanted handball to be part of the project, and following a meeting with the leadership of the project in Lausanne, the EHF Secretary General, Michael Wiederer, and I made it clear that the EHF is interested in this new project.
We have also put forward the idea that we include not only indoor handball but also beach handball in the Games. I am pleased to say that this has been positively received by the EOC.
At this stage, based on the agreement of the EHF Executive and the Professional Handball Board (made up of representatives of the national federations, professional leagues, clubs and players) we have signed a letter of intent to say handball is interested in continuing to work with the EOC towards the inclusion of the sport in the Games.
The future inclusion of handball in the Games is as yet by no means certain. We have underlined the fact that that certain criteria and standards need to be met if the sport is to join the programme of the Games.
eurohandball.com: What does the European Games mean for the international calendar in the future?
Jean Brihault: Naturally the international calendar is an important consideration, and it is clear – and the message from our various stakeholders is also clear – that a European Games cannot add to the workload of players in the future.
Assuming a first event is a success, we will have to look at how the European Games will fit into handball’s calendar of events.
eurohandball.com: What does the European Games mean for European handball?
We are still in negotiation with the EOC, but I can imagine the event in 2015 being played initially with eight men’s and eight women’s teams in indoor handball and eight men’s and eight women’s teams in beach handball. From the start both the men’s and women’s competitions event must be organised on an equal footing.