The Member Federations of the European Handball Federation came together in Basel for the 16th Ordinary EHF Congress on14 September 2023. The decision on 16 motions formed the core of the Congress.

The congress in Switzerland also marked another milestone in European handball history, as the European Handball Federation put sustainable acting at the forefront of its doing.

One of the key motions passed was a motion for an alternate refereeing structure. It proposed to amend the EHF Statutes by deleting the position of the member refereeing from the EHF Competitions Commission and to put the entire area of refereeing on a professional level.

The EHF Congress also approved the explicit inclusion of the ‘Pyramid System of Sports Structures’ into the EHF Statutes. The idea is to secure a continuous line of regulations and responsibilities within the sport. It ensures competitions on a respective level are carried out by a single source, and the system together with the respective regulations and guidelines are in use by all levels of the sport.

Also approved was a motion that proposed to amend and rearrange the EHF Statutes by adding the ‘spirit of peace and understanding’ to the relevant points, and another to amend the statutes by including specified ethical standards and the principle of good governance.

The Congress also approved the calendar sovereignty of the European Handball Federation meaning that the statutes will be amended to reflect that the sole authority to coordinate and define the overall handball competitions and activities calendar in Europe lies with the EHF.

EHF sets ambitious goal to make handball “Europe’s most sustainable sport”

At the congress, the first draft of an ‘EHF Sustainability Strategy’ was presented to the Member Federations.

The EHF Office had been working on the draft strategy together with German expert Christopher Jahns – and the strategy’s vision is bold as it would like to turn handball into “the most sustainable sport by 2027”.

Underneath that vision, three goals have been set:

  1. Follow the ambition towards climate neutrality
  2. Be Europe’s thought leader for fairness and governance in sport
  3. Foster an equal, inclusive and skilled handball ecosystem and community

In order to reach these goals, three action fields – the EHF as an organisation, the federation’s tournaments & events and the EHF’s handball ecosystem and partners – were identified, and six strategic priorities were named.

  • Climate action & energy
  • Waste, consumption, recycling
  • Equality and inclusion
  • Health & education
  • External governance (corruption, doping safety, incentives)
  • Internal governance, reporting & communications

The proposed route to 2027 included that, for each of the priorities and three action fields, a subject with KPIs, targets and measures is set.

In order to turn the draft into the federation’s final sustainability strategy, the EHF wants to involve its stakeholders.

"Integrating our stakeholders’ perspectives into the final strategy is key for us and a core piece of the puzzle in order to be successful," said EHF Secretary General Martin Hausleitner.

"We understand the growing importance of sustainability for professional sports, not only on the ecological level, but also when it comes to the social and governance perspective.

"We have a mountain to climb, but together with our member federations we are now taking a first and important step towards a sustainable future for European handball."