ETTU | 9 Apr 2024

The European Champions League Men and Women meeting

The European Champions League Men and Women meeting was held on the eve of the men's Champions League Final 4 at the Saarlandhalle, the venue that hosted the top 4 clubs competing for the trophy on March 31st and April 1st.

EHF Chief Sports Officer Marcus GLASER presented their experience of one of the most successful sport federations in Europe with the Final 4 (European Handball). With 10,300 spectators at the second leg of the Men's Champions League final in 2008 and the introduction of the F4 tournament in Cologne for the first time in 2010, the tournament attracted 19,374 spectators. All F4 events from 2011 onwards were sold out with 20,000 spectators. GLASER discussed the challenges faced by the EHF in introducing the F4 and how the federation addressed these obstacles to create a successful event. Most of these challenges were overcome when the EHF took complete organizational control and decided to maintain the same venue as the host each year.

"To summarize, the decision to introduce the F4 instead of home and away finals was the best and most successful decision the EHF made. It came from various aspects, including making it a dream for teams to qualify and win the F4. It was the right step," said GLASER.

ETTU's new partner STUPA presented the new platform that is currently being developed. STUPA has initiated the complete digitalization of the ETTU platform, including the implementation of a new website, OTT, and registration system.

Returning to the concerns raised by clubs, one mutual concern is the scheduling of matches among a few other issues.

"We had incredible semi-finals against TT Neu Ulm and a final against Saarbrücken last year and we were very happy to play in front of our spectators," said Alexander SCHILLING from Borussia Düsseldorf. "However, we are here, but the question of having firm dates that work in favor of players is imperative."

Regarding the calendar issue, ETTU Acting President Pedro MOURA stated: "We held good meetings with ITTF and WTT and we are waiting for confirmation of the dates."

Roland BERG on behalf of 1. FC Saarbrücken TT and Alexander SCHILLING on behalf of Borussia Düsseldorf, spoke in favor of the decision to have the highest-ranked teams start playing only from a later round.

"The calendar for top players is so busy, with Bundesliga matches, Cup matches, and then the Champions League, it's too much. The best players are also involved in individual tournaments... We strongly prefer the system where top clubs play only from the quarters and then proceed to the Final 4," said BERG.

On the other hand, some clubs advocated for group stage matches with the possibility for their spectators to see matches against top clubs. The Acting President MOURA informed that ETTU is in the process of creating a system that will bring improvement and withstand the test of time.

"Right now, we are renegotiating for all our media and commercial rights. Champions League is one of our top ETTU competitions and it is important to discuss with clubs and improve the actual model of better recognition " explained MOURA.