Satisfied with the organisation, disappointed with the result

INTERVIEW: Sandi Sola, President of the Croatian Handball Federation, speaks about the EHF EURO as the 'Croatian part' of the tournament draws to a close

Photo: Stephane Pillaud

The Croatian Handball Federation is an experienced organiser when it comes to international handball events.

They first hosted the Men's EHF EURO 2000, followed by the Women's World Championship 2003 and the Men's World Championship 2009.

In 2014 the federation organised two events in a span of less than six months: First the Junior Women's World Championship and for the past two weeks, together with the Hungarian Handball Federation, the Women's EHF EURO 2014.

The matches on Croatian courts concluded with the last main round day in Zagreb on Wednesday, after Osijek and Varazdin had been the venues for the preliminary round.

To the federation's dismay the Croatian women's national team failed to qualify for the main round, but Sola nevertheless draws positive conclusion as he speaks to ehf-euro.com.

ehf-euro.com: What is your conclusion of the event so far in terms of organisation?
Sandi Sola: It was no new territory for us to organise a major event, as we have been cooperating with the EHF and the IHF for a number of years when it comes to hosting events.

We have a well-rehearsed team in our federation since the World Championship 2009, and I hope we fulfilled the demands of the EHF. It is up to them, to the teams and to other stakeholders to evaluate the job we did over the last two weeks. We are satisfied with what we did.

ehf-euro.com: But from the sport's point of view you cannot be satisfied...
Sandi Sola: We did not expect to exit the tournament so early. This was really disappointing for us and it really hurts as it had an impact on the whole event as missed the Croatian fans in the Zagreb Arena.

ehf-euro.com: What were the reasons for this early exit?
Sandi Sola: We will analyse everything carefully now, starting from the preparation to the performances at the EURO.

Something went wrong on the court and in terms of communication between coach and players. The time has come for some changes. A new coach with new ideas will inject fresh blood to the team.

ehf-euro.com: Your federation can already look ahead to the next major event, as Croatia was awarded the right to host the Men's EHF EURO 2018.
Sandi Sola: Yes, it is really not a long time until European top handball will come again to Croatia. We hope for a huge interest similar to what we experienced for the Men's World Championship 2009.

We are well prepared for the next challenge, as the arenas and the staff are well prepared. A Men's EHF EURO belongs to the biggest events you can have in sports.

In 2018 our current men's team will be at its prime - and I'm absolutely sure that they will not exit as early as our women's team did. We hope for a similar success as we enjoyed it in 2009 (Croatia finished second).

written by Björn Pazen / ts


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