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EHF outlines plan for resumption of handball season

Frankis Carol Marzo of Sporting CP in action against Andrei Savenco and Seyed Mousavi of Dinamo Bucharest during the EHF Men's Champions League Group Phase (Photo by Alex Nicodim/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

The European Handball Federation (EHF) has presented a competition plan to potentially resume playing at the beginning of June, with president Michael Wiederer having addressed the governing body’s plans to deal with the disruption caused by the Covid-19 outbreak.

The EHF has postponed competitions planned in April and May due to the Covid-19 pandemic but the body is hopeful that the season can resume in the early summer.

The EHF admitted that the global spread of Covid-19 has “cast the shadow of doubt” on the immediate future of the 2019-20 season and stressed that its plan to resume matches during the first week of June remains “purely theoretical”.

The EHF Final 4s and men’s EHF Cup finals will be postponed and moved to their alternative dates in August and September, respectively. The new plan outlines a potential schedule for matches to be played from June 3 to July 5, including qualifiers for both men’s and women’s club and national team competitions.

Wiederer said: “The current situation makes it impossible to play any handball competitions for the next weeks. It’s beyond any scope of thought.

“There are currently much more important things to focus on than to discuss possibilities for handball matches. However, there are good reasons to develop alternative scenarios. This is what we have been working on.”

For every week, the EHF’s competition plan includes a latest date until which the matches can be cancelled by the federation. The plan also incorporates procedures for further qualification based on sporting results achieved in rounds already completed.

Wiederer added: “We are fully aware that the implementation of this scenario depends on the development of the situation around the coronavirus and related governmental decisions.

“The EHF will be utmost flexible and is ready to adapt should it become necessary…

“…by no means does the EHF wish to give the impression that it wants to push through a competition schedule. Rather on the contrary we have to make sure that after the crisis the sporting situation will be clear and, at the same time, a feasible plan will be developed to be potentially introduced in case of an improved situation.”

Discussing the impact of the postponement of the 2020 Olympic Games and one notion that they could be rearranged for the spring of 2021, Wiederer said: “Placing the Olympic Games in the middle of the season will dramatically effect all the competitions and may have a negative impact on the men’s World Championship in Egypt and even, in the Olympic Games, on handball itself. Not even speaking of the players, clubs, leagues, and national teams in Europe, this is not a desirable option.”

The men’s IHF World Championship is scheduled to take place between January 14 and 31, 2021.