But why iiiiii this goes back to the “undrinkable” format in the two round pool?

We think handball is back on the path of rationality, then flourishes, relapses. While the International Federation (IHF) has returned to a format understandable to ordinary people for the past three World Championships, with a group stage of 16 qualifying rounds, it has decided to back off.

Thursday’s games in Germany and Denmark marked the return of the two-round billiards system, where points matter and nothing else, even if teams lose three or four games to reach the final. very happy?

an unintelligible game

France assistant coach Guillaume Gil is not. Absolutely not. “This formula with preliminary and main rounds provides the right to make mistakes, but makes the legibility of the game impossible. Because all situations are possible because you have to take out the calculator at each game to know exactly wagers, as wagers can sometimes be contrary to sportsmanship, namely winning the game. »

Textual explanations are in order. In detail, this World Cup will go like this: the first round of preliminary rounds of 6-a-side groups, the top three teams will form the second round with the top three teams of another group (Group A, which includes France, and B , C and D). Scores from the first round against the other two qualifying teams count towards the main round. The first two groups that reunite will advance to the semi-finals.

Audience and ad revenue challenges

Boxing, volleyball or basketball that didn’t help to get interested in the game from the first game, but the hand was in the process of overtaking. Guillaume Gill of the Second Blade:

In a movement like ours, which is opening up to a different audience, not just connoisseurs, it’s notoriously undrinkable. The simpler the rules, the easier they are to understand. When you’re new, we’re a sport that’s not easy to get used to, and if we add complexity to the game process, we can’t get away from it. »

If you’re wondering why the IHF updated the format used between 2003 and 2011, the answer will be found during the last World Cup in France in 2017. Germany and Denmark face Qatar and Hungary respectively in the round of 16, which is puzzling. Viewership and advertising revenue in the two major handball countries suffered. With this year’s co-organizers, “they use their power to keep the minimum guarantees in the game,” concluded the assistant coach.

Lack of excitement?

So ended the knockout prematurely in the game. Too bad the salt of the test, and the emotions that come with it. The reason why football is like this is also due to the excitement of the fierce competition in the World Cup. “These games are the best in our sport, Kentin Mahé regrets. You have to be good in T moments, that’s what we see with big teams. »

Florent Houzot, editorial director of beIN Sports, the official broadcaster of the World Cup in France, offers a nuanced view. “We still end up with a decisive game in the main round”, defending the leader, arguing that the format has two big advantages:

  • Open to the world: “This corresponds to a positive approach to developing handball, a fairly European sport worldwide. The system guarantees quality competition over time, while still leaving room for emerging countries. Of course , they can do well in one game, but mathematically they are more likely to pass in three. If they are consistent and the others make mistakes, then anything is possible. »
  • one more game [le vainqueur aura joué dix matchs, contre 9 avant] “It’s obviously interesting for the broadcasters, especially for our French team, which always attracts a lot of people. »

“Propaganda and Explanation Work”

As for the complexity of the format, Florent Houzot isn’t worried. There’s no need to hire Bertrand Renard, his luxury advisors — Daniel Narcisse, Bertrand Gille and François-Xavier Houlet — know it all. “They want to support the audience as much as possible with a lot of outreach and interpretation work. They will be able to provide all the keys depending on the situation,” he assured.

However, there is no point in making gestures, all of which can still be changed in the next version.We’ll leave the final say on the subject to the somewhat disappointed Kentin Mahé: “There is no consistency. One year is like this, another year is like this, and another year wildcard handed out, these guys won medals when they didn’t even qualify [la Norvège en 2017, par exemple]. This is a bit of nonsense and unfortunately it sometimes reflects how handball is managed. »

This looks a lot like growing pains. It’s also how we see a sport becoming more and more important, isn’t it?

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