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11.01.2017 09:31 Uhr - World Championship - PR France 2017

Organizers promise: "France is ready to welcome the world!"

The 25th Men`s Handball World Championship starts on today with the opening ceremony followed by the first of 84 matches between France, the defending champions, and Brazil. "Everything is ready at the eight competition venues to host a great world handball celebration", the organizers promise.

On the night before the 2017 IHF Men"s World Handball Championship (11 – 29 January) throw-off, the handball family met on the 9th floor of the Institut du Monde Arabe on the banks of the Seine in the presence of the institute’s director Jack Lang for a major press conference. The press conference itself saw members of the French and international media congregate ahead of the tournament that brings together 24 teams from around the world into eight venues.

President of the International Handball Federation (IHF), Hassan Moustafa was delighted to see handball celebrated in a territory that has done so much to promote the sport. Twice hosting the World Championship (1970 and 2001), and thanks to the results of a five-time world champion French team, handball fans here are no strangers to success on the big stage. "This World Championship is sure to be a landmark event in the history of handball. We are at the end of a marathon started five years ago when we assigned the event to France; we expect it to be the best ever World Championship."

Joël Delplanque, President of the France Handball 2017 Organising Committee and the French Handball Federation, then expressed France"s pride in hosting international handball for 18 days and his satisfaction at seeing the event reaching such a wide audience: "We are indeed in the final stretch of the marathon."

"In five years of preparation, our objectives have not changed. Our aim, first of all, is to be at the top in terms of organization. Next, we want to keep evolving the popularity of our sport and we are delighted at the tremendous mobilisation around the World Championship in all territories. Finally, we intend to leave a lasting legacy for the development of our discipline, which is already the case, since more than half of the tickets sold to date have been to people from outside the handball family. This adventure, I am convinced, will propel French handball into another dimension and is going to be a phenomenal success!", Delplanque declared.

Director of Competitions for the IHF and Managing Director of the Organising Committee, Patric Strub and Edouard Donnelly, respectively then presented the principal elements of the competition which starts with the opening match France vs Brazil (20:45 (CET) at the AccorHotels Arena of Paris). 24 teams from 4 continents, 407 players, 84 matches, 8 venues, and a schedule that features exciting innovations, will not disappoint. All eighth-finals will be played on the same weekend (21-22 January), with the winning teams remaining in the same city to compete in their quarter-final.

"We have reduced the pressure and risk of injury to players," said Patric Strub, who also highlighted the IHF’s special effort to grant close to 1 million euros to compensate the clubs whose players are competing in the World Championship, and announced a prize sum of money of $100,000 (€95,000) for the winning team. 16 pairs of referees will be in charge of the 84 matches; the duos include a women"s duo made up of the French Bonaventura sisters, while video refereeing - tested for the first time two years ago in Qatar - will be used more extensively. Referees and IHF delegates will have the possibility to request video assistance for nine different match situations.

The organisers of the World Championship are also pleased with the great success that has been achieved so far: firstly, success in terms of the sport with the presence of the 24 best teams worldwide - "We will have the opportunity to see that handball is not played the same way in Japan, Brazil, Angola, France or in Russia, each has its own handball culture, this will highlight the richness of cultural diversity and the exceptional side of this World Championship," said Director of the Competition, Olivier Krumbholz.

Popular success with 431,000 spectators already guaranteed, that is 67 per cent of seats filled. With such high numbers one can count on a phenomenal atmosphere in the stands and in the entertainment villages that welcome fans from all over the world. Media has seen its own success with more than 1,000 accredited journalists, of which 50 per cent are foreign, 28 broadcasters, in addition to beIN SPORTS (the official broadcaster) in 178 countries, all together have a potential target of 147 million households.

Phenomenal Ambassadress of the 25th Men"s World Championship and comedienne Claudia Tagbo attended the press conference with Philippe Gardent. Gardent, who is also an ambassador, closed the press conference this morning: "I look forward to the adventure beginning and I am counting on the public to support all the participants in order to ensure this celebration is phenomenal!" On Wednesday, the AccorHotels Arena will present the opening show, part of which will be hosted by DJ star FEDER, composure of "Lordly", the soundtrack of the World Championship.

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