25,000 balls and a coffee pot - the history of the EHF draw

In August 1993, the handball world observed the first ever EHF draw. It was an historic moment, the first of many thousands of balls to be drawn by the federation’s Secretary General, Michael Wiederer.

Indeed, Michael Wiederer, estimates that he has drawn around 25,000 balls in his 25-year career as Secretary General.

The first draw was for the inaugural season of the EHF Champions League, the EHF having just taken over the European Champions Cup competition from the IHF.

Representatives of 70-80 clubs witnessed Wiederer (centre) performing the draw, assisted by Günal Ensari (left, at that time President of the Turkish National Federation) and Jan Tuik (right, at that time member of the Competitions Commission) at the Golf Club of Vienna’s Hotel Bosei, near the first EHF office building.

Looking at the pictures from the first European Cup and the EHF Champions League draws and comparing them with today’s images underlines the rapid changes the EHF has witnessed over the past 25 years. They are simply worlds apart.

Gone are the days where team names and the match pairings had to be stuck to a pin board. Draw events have become show events in their own right with entertainment and live television coverage transporting the tension of a live draw to millions around the world.

In this electronic age, the media, fans and teams also expect information as it happens and it is not possible to follow events as they happy via a plethora of channels from the EHF’s live ticker through to Twitter and now even through Facebook Live.

The EHF is rightly proud that in their entire draw history not a single draw event had to be re-enacted due to a technical error.

Though sometimes, despite the even the best preparations, things just do not go quite to plan.

This is what happened on 2 May 2013 in the German Sports Museum in Cologne when the ball drawn by the then Mayor of the City of Cologne, Jürgen Roters, containing ‘THW Kiel’ simply refused to open.

It was only with the help of a coffee pot and a considerable amount of brute force from EHF Secretary General, Michael Wiederer, that the pairing THW Kiel versus HSV Hamburg was finally revealed.

Perhaps an unlucky omen for the three-time winners of the Champions League title, THW Kiel, they went on to lose 39:33 in the semi-finals and HSV of course surprised the handball world with their first VELUX EHF Champions League title.

about me
The EHF Media and Communications Department is responsible for the external communications of the European Handball Federation, including publications, online and social media channels. The team includes media staff based in the EHF Office in Vienna, Austria and also a network of professional journalists and editors across Europe.