Men’s EHF Cup hitting new heights
By the time the doors opened at Sparkassen-Arena on the morning of Tuesday, 12 March, hundreds of fans were already waiting to make their way in and secure the best possible tickets for the AKQUINET EHF Cup Finals.
Despite waiting outside early in the morning for the ticket release, spirits were high among the crowd of patient fans as their beloved THW Kiel had stormed through Group D and already secured their spot at the home event on 17/18 May.
Three-time EHF Champions League and EHF Cup winners Kiel are favourites among many to claim their first European title since 2012 and their fans do not want to miss it happening in their back yard.
The 10,285 seats at Kiel’s Sparkassen-Arena are expected to be filled, which will be a record high for the competition.
As it approaches its 10th edition, the VELUX EHF FINAL4 has already established itself as an annual international sporting highlight, but it is now clear that the “younger brother” is following suit.
“The EHF Cup is constantly evolving towards the level of the VELUX EHF Champions League. The competition has a storied history, with clubs like Kiel, Barcelona and Rhein-Neckar Löwen taking part en route to the top of European club handball.
“Using the metaphor of two brothers – the younger brother is only much smaller as a child, but as both grow up, they are both big,” EHF President Michael Wiederer told Zita Newerla in an interview for the latest issue of Handball Inside.
As well as being a proven breeding ground for top clubs around Europe, the MEN'S EHF Cup has clearly grabbed the attention of the handball world this season.
16 TV partners broadcast 58 group phase matches to 21 regions, while the relaunched website europeancup.eurohandball.com and dedicated social media accounts on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter ensured unprecedented exposure throughout the season.
This increased exposure is part of the EHF’s and EHF Marketing's plan to build momentum for the second tier competition before its expansion and rebranding as the European Handball League in 2020.
But for now, all eyes are on the race for the AKQUINET EHF Cup Finals and Tuesday’s quarter-final draw threw up some fascinating ties, with defending champions Füchse Berlin set to face Bundesliga rivals TSV Hannover-Burgdorf, 2018 runners-up Saint-Raphael Var taking on FC Porto Sofarna and TTH Holstebro up against Grundfos Tatabanya KC on the weekends of 20/21 and 27/28 April.
Photo credit: EHF/Axel HeimkenAuthor: Zita Newerla / cor