The European Handball Federation (EHF) is the umbrella organisation for Europeanhandball. Founded in November 1991, it is made of 49 member federations and one associated federation (Kosovo), and is headquartered in Vienna, Austria. The current EHF President is Jean Brihault, who was elected in June 2012 and will serve until 2016. Its current Secretary General is Michael Wiederer. The federation celebrated its 20th anniversary on 17 November 2011 at a gala event under the slogan 'HeartBeat Handball'.
EHF was founded on 17 November 1991 in Berlin, Germany, although the first EHF Congress convened on 5 June 1992 and assigned EHF's headquarters to Vienna, Austria from 1 September that year. In 2012 the EHF Office celebrated 20 years since it first opened its doors. In the subsequent years, the number of member countries has expanded from the initial 29 to its current number of 49, after Great Britain was re-accepted as member in the place of the English and Scottish Handball Associations at the EHF Congress in Monte Carlo, Monaco in June 2012. The EHF represents its members in the development of the sport both in terms of grassroots talent, as well as commercial growth. EHF-organised events such as the Men’s and Women’s European Handball Championships and the EHF Champions League represent major revenue contributors, while initiatives such as beach handball and handball at school expand the attraction of the sport.
The European Men's Handball Championship and European Women's Handball Championship are the flagship national team events of the European Handball Federation and rank amongst the leading indoor sports events on the international sports market. First played in 1994, the EHF EUROs have taken place in host nations across the continent on a biennial basis, with the men’s event held in January and the women’s in December.
The Men’s EHF EURO 2012, held in Serbia, attracted a cumulative global TV audience of 1.47 billion, and was transmitted by 75 broadcasters in more than 200 territories. A record 300,000 spectators also followed the event live in five venues across the countries, 20,000 more than had watched the 2010 edition in Austria. Significant advances were also made online with almost 1,000,000 people logging on the official website www.ehf-euro.com.
The Women’s EHF EURO 2010 was organised jointly by Denmark and Norway. The event recorded 996 hours of broadcast coverage and a TV audience of 335 million, in Denmark and Norway selected matches of the home teams broke TV records underlining the popularity of the sport in Scandinavia. The event was also the most watched ever live, with 220,000 spectators following the action across five venues.
The EHF Champions League was launched in the 1993/94 season for both men's and women's teams. The competition has developed considerably over the years, with the introduction of a distinctive blue lagoon and black floor in the 2007/08 season, the creation of an 'EHF Champions League' ball as well as changes to the format of the competition, which saw the introduction of a new 'Last 16' and the VELUX EHF FINAL4 in the 2009/10 season. From the start of the 2011/12 season, the VELUX Group added their name to the men's competition as title sponsor, and the competition became the VELUX EHF Champions League. The 2012/13 season is the competition's 20th and saw the launch of a brand new corporate identity and logo.
Over 250 clubs take part in the EHF European Cup competitions, which include EHF Cup, EHF Cup Winners' Cup and EHF Challenge Cup. The 2012/13 season saw a change to the men's European Cup competitions with the amalgamation of the EHF Cup and the EHF Cup Winners' Cup to become simply the 'EHF Cup'. The change was introduced in order to create a three-tier competition system with the VELUX EHF Champions League at the top, followed by the EHF Cup and then the EHF Challenge Cup. The EHF administers over 730 European club matches each year, which take place in all corners of the continent. The European Handball Federation is also proud of the fact that all of its member federations are active within the organisation.
Beach handball originated on the beaches of Italy in the 1990s and has established itself as a sport in its own right within the EHF with the organisation of the European Beach Tour and European Championships for men, women and younger age categories. The first European Beach Handball Championships were held in 2000 in Gaeta (Italy) and the next will be held in Randers (Denmark) in the summer of 2013. Beach handball is a World Games sport and the ultimate aim is for it to become a part of the Olympic programme.
The EHF has a number of projects and initiatives through which it supports the development of the sport generally and also in its member federations. These include: Rinck Convention: named after the EHF Honorary Member, and former chairman of the EHF Methods Commission, Claude Rinck. Its aim is the mutual recognition of standards and certificates in the field of coaches' education in handball in Europe by preserving and safeguarding the regional and national characteristics of coaches' education, in order to facilitate the direct admission to work as a handball coach, in each signatory member federation. SMART Projects: short term projects in member federations with specific aims and objectives; includes material support, coaching and technical support. Foster Projects: cooperation agreements between federations; usually between top-ranking and emerging nations to support the progress of handball's development. Infrastructure Support Programme (ISP): Longer term projects in partnership with member federations; offering part-funding of salaries of staff members, such as development officers to help build capacity in member federations.