For the second time after the 2015 event at Varazdin, Michael Wiederer was visiting a SEHA – Gazprom League Final 4 tournament now in Skopje. The EHF President was highly impressed by the sportive level and the organisation – not only by the Final 4, but also the whole competition of the SEHA – Gazprom League – as he mentions in this interview.
What are your impressions of the SEHA – Gazprom League Final 4?
The Final 4 of the SEHA - Gazprom League is one of the top-level events from the European perspective. The Champions League Final 4 in Cologne is a lighthouse for handball, but at big coasts, you need more than one lighthouse, which means: Handball needs more events like this, as they increase the value of our sport. For example, the TV broadcast is of highest level as well as the European-wider interest for the competition. The Final 4 has set certain benchmarks in our sports.
How do you rate the cooperation of the EHF with the SEHA – Gazprom League?
We support the SEHA – Gazprom League from the start, as we support multi-national competitions in general, as they make the clubs stronger and the players better. The cooperation of the EHF with the leadership and the office of the SEHA - Gazprom is on highest level. Therefore, we recognize the SEHA – Gazprom League as a strong partner. The SEHA – Gazprom League forces the clubs to improve in all departments, like in terms of arenas, organisation and marketing. The level of quality has clearly increased, not only on the court.
Does the SEHA – Gazprom League make clubs and players stronger?
From the sportive point of view, you see that all four Final 4 participants are part of the Champions League, therefore the SEHA – Gazprom League lifts the quality of the clubs and the Champions League. It is important for us to support the top clubs, which is also done by the SEHA League.
Last season, Vardar won the SEHA – Gazprom League and the VELUX EHF Champions League – can they become the first team to defend its title in Cologne?
Definitely, their duels against THW Kiel are the highlights of the quarter-finals – a highly interesting constellation. The defending champions face a triple winner of the Champions League. This will be a truly hot duel, but definitely Vardar can make it to Cologne despite this high quarter-final hurdle. But if this happens, still, they have a semi-final and a final ahead. In general, it is brilliant for the product Champions League that now so many different clubs have the chance to make it to Cologne and even to win the title.
And finally: What is your expectation for today’s SEHA -Gazprom League final?
We will for sure see a top match of two strong clubs.