The story of EHF success started 30 years ago

MAL7445 V EHF / Björn Pazen

On 1 September 1992, the EHF Office opened its doors in Vienna with two employees. EHF President Michael Wiederer, the first EHF Secretary General, looks back at the start of a successful venture.

Back on the opening day, the European Handball Federation made a flying start. 10 months earlier, the EHF had been founded at the initial congress in Berlin. One of the first major tasks for the first committee – headed by Staffan Holmqvist, the first EHF President, from Sweden – was the search for a suitable seat for the headquarters of the organisation. In June 1992, the first Extraordinary Congress chose Vienna, as opposed to the two other suggestions of Berlin and Copenhagen.

The EHF rented three offices for their initial staff, and on 1 September 1992, Michael Wiederer (pictured below) and his Danish-Austrian assistant, Pia Pedersen, moved into their new working space.

"But there was no time to get used to the new office, as we went straight on to Miskolc in Hungary, where the first European Women's Youth championship started on our first day, 1 September 1992," said Wiederer as he looked back at the start.

Norway made history by becoming the first winners of an EHF competition. When this event finished, Wiederer and Pedersen travelled to Winterthur in Switzerland, where Portugal claimed the first European Men's Youth championship.

20220829 EHF Wiederer 30 Years

Wiederer, who was appointed by the committee that subsequently became the EHF Executive Committee, and Pedersen had a huge task when they started. In 1993, the first European Cup competitions were about to begin. In 1994, the EHF had to organise the first Men's and Women's EHF EURO tournaments in Portugal and Germany.

The EHF signed its first major contract a month later with the Swiss marketing agency CWL, which is now known as Infront. Infront is still a media and marketing partner of the EHF – now alongside DAZN.

Seven Presidents of national federations formed the committee, and experts such as Manfred Prause (Germany), Jozef Ambrus (Slovakia), Jesus Guerrero (Spain) and Jan Tuik (Netherlands) were part of the Technical Commission.

"There were many language barriers. We held our meeting in a mix of German and English, but ultimately we were successful,” said Wiederer about the beginning of the new venture.

Today, 13 members form the EHF Executive Committee, including members of the Professional Handball Board, Women's Handball Board and Nations Board. In the middle of September, the EHF Executive Committee will have its 165th meeting since the founding of the EHF.

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In March 1993, the EHF appointed Markus Glaser (pictured above) as the third employee. The Swiss man had been working for the IHF in the club competition department, and after one year in the USA, Glaser returned to Europe and started his work as chief competition manager. 30 years after the EHF Office opened, Glaser is now the Chief Sports Officer and still the main person in charge of the EHF's competitions.

When the EHF renamed the top-flight competitions from the IHF Champions Cup to the EHF Champions League, a highly successful handball brand was born at the start of the 1993/94 season - and more personnel was needed. 

As the initial three office rooms became too small, the EHF moved within the area to a Japanese Tea House. More staff were recruited, such as Helmut Höritsch, who just retired in March 2022, and Assistant Secretary General Alexander Toncourt, who passed away in 2012.

In 1996, the EHF Congress decided to build a new home for the EHF. In March 1998, the European Handball Federation moved to Hoffingergasse 18 in Vienna – with nine employees.

In 2005, EHF Marketing as the EHF's daughter company and marketing arm, was founded, and nowadays more than 80 employees work for the EHF and EHFM.

Despite several extensions, the building in Hoffingergasse became far too small again. In 2021, EHFM moved to a new office building nearby – but there are already plans for a new European handball office in Vienna. "I hope we can move there in 2024," said Wiederer.

The first employee of the EHF changed his position in 2016. After 24 years as Secretary General, Wiederer became EHF President at the 25th anniversary EHF Congress at Lake Wolfgang, Austria. One year later, fellow Austrian Martin Hausleitner became only the second EHF Secretary General. Interestingly, Wiederer held the same position as Hausleitner – Secretary General of the Austrian Handball Federation – before he took over at the EHF in 1992 and opened the office doors on 1 September 1992 to start a story of success.

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