Co-hosts Germany are in the semi-finals of the World Cup. And the whole country talks about handball. However, the question arises as to whether the euphoria does not quickly disappear again, as it did after previous successes.

The Federal President is also enthusiastic. “The semi-final has been reached, Why not more? “Asked Frank-Walter Steinmeier with a big smile on his face, after the German national handball team had reached the semi-finals at the World Cup, as in 2007, when the DHB team under the leadership of the former national coach Heiner Brand At the home World Cup triumphed, also now a handball euphoria broke out in the country, which has also seized the head of state.The reason for the enthusiasm, according to Steinmeier, is not only the successful appearance of the team, but “also the guys who Show performance and bring the irrepressible ambition and the joy of the game. “If the team of coach Christian Prokop on Friday in Hamburg against Norway (beginning 20.30 CET) for the finals plays in the final, the President will sit back in the stands.

Handball as a quota racer

The relaunched handball fever can also be proven with numbers: Already before the two semi-finals and the final match the World Cup organizers Germany and Denmark with a total of 837,000 spectators record a visitor record. The previous record was 750,000, set up at the 2007 World Cup in Germany. On television, the World Cup is a quota racer: tens of millions of viewers watched on Monday on ZDF 22:21 crime against Croatia, which corresponds to a market share of about 30 percent. Even the last major round match on Wednesday against Spain , before the semi-final was already determined and in which it was only about the group victory , pursued in the ARD nine million viewers.

Handball boom 2007 failed

“We are now where we wanted to go,” says Bob Hanning, vice president of the German Handball Federation and adds with regard to the football: “We want to shorten the gap to the favorite sport.” The DHB wanted that even after the World Cup success in 2007, but the handball euphoria at that time verpuffte as quickly as after the sensational European title in 2016. “Since a short-term high is generated, which may also be very short term member growth,” analyzed the philosopher and journalist Wolfram Eilenberger on Deutschlandfunk, “but the overall interest situation is so strongly anchored, so strongly hardened, that one can not assume that handball will now experience an extremely high increase.” Eilenberger had caused an outcry among the fans after the European Championship triumph in 2016,

Handball World Cup 2019 Main Round Germany vs. Germany  Spain (picture-alliance / AP Photo / M. Meissner)

Germany’s handball players delight the audience – not only in the hall

Motherland of the handball

Although the first set of rules was drafted in 1906 in Denmark, the other host country of the current World Cup, Germany is considered the motherland of the handball. The birth of the sport is October 29, 1917. At that time, the Berlin Oberturnwart Max Heiser stated that “Torball” – a game that he had designed two years earlier for women – should be called “handball” in the future. With more than 750,000 members, the DHB is today the largest handball association in the world. Outside Europe, handball is popular in some countries of North Africa, such as Tunisia and Egypt, parts of South America (Brazil, Argentina) and Asia (South Korea, Japan), and more recently in the Arab world (Qatar).

“Developing country” Great Britain

In the Anglo-Saxon area, however, the sport is hardly widespread. Britain, for example, is still a handball developing country. When London won the bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics, it was searched for handball players with British roots worldwide. The national team, which then started, was a mix of talented hobby players, basketball players, rugby, American football and football players. At that time, the newspaper “Sun” explained to their readers: “Handball is like water polo without water.”

“We have to get younger”

Germany Handball World Cup 2019 |  Stefan Kretzschmar (picture-alliance / SvenSimon / E. Kremser)

Kretzschmar calls for new handball image

Although there are certainly many people in Germany who are unfamiliar with the handball rules, you do not have to explain the sport itself to the public in this country. In order for the euphoria to have a lasting effect this time, handball experts say that reforms are needed. Viktor Szilagyi, sports director of the German record champion THW Kiel, proposes to offer handball camps for youth during the summer. The clubs would also have to strengthen their scouting. “We have to change the image of our sport,” says former international and handball icon Stefan Kretzschmar. “That means we have to get younger, more interesting for the kids, that’s the challenge for the next few years.”

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