The European Handball Federation celebrated its 30th anniversary in November 2021. Over the past three decades the EHF and the sport of handball have grown together, developing a sport that can truly appeal to all across the continent.
The EHF was founded in Berlin on 17 November 1991. Its establishment followed 30 years of discussion about the creation of a continental handball federation, but it was only after the fall of the Berlin Wall and the Iron Curtain in 1989 that the discussions bore fruit.
In 1991, 29 federations became part of the EHF. Sweden’s Staffan Holmqvist was elected as the first EHF President. A year later, the EHF opened its head office in Vienna and named Michael Wiederer as Secretary General.
The first official EHF competitions – the Men’s and Women’s Youth European Championships in Hungary and Switzerland – were held in September 1992, only weeks after the first Ordinary EHF Congress. In 1994 the first EHF EURO tournaments were played. Sweden’s ‘Benga Boys’ picked up the men’s trophy, with Denmark lifting the women’s trophy later in the year.
In 1993 the EHF took over organisation of European club competitions from the IHF, and over the next 30 years the scale of participation by European clubs soared. The EHF FINAL4 for men and women have become marquee sporting events, attended by thousands of devoted fans.
Off the court, the past 30 years has also seen the EHF continue its important work in growing, promoting and protecting handball by educating and coaching the next generations – not just of players but also coaches and officials.
In 2021, digital innovation is helping the development of the game on court as well as fan engagement across Europe. And under the European Handball Master Plan, unveiled in 2020, European handball undoubtedly has a long, bright future.