A new competition for national teams, both male and female, that will be parallel to World League and developed following the model of the European clubs’ cups. That’s the project that LEN is about to present: the official communication to the European federations will be sent within this week, followed by the official format and the terms for registration.

Waterpolo Development World
Source: waterpolo development world

 Its format has three stages: the first two are qualification rounds, similar to the European cups’ round robin system, having more games over a week end; the final act will be the Final Four. “We aim to kick off the competition on November – LEN operational manager Marco Birri says -. I guess the second round will be on February and the finals on April,  in harmony with the calendar of cups for clubs, of course ”. The new competition hasn’t an official name yet:  LEN Challenge Cup or LEN Europe Cup are among the possible choices. “However we haven’t chosen yet. As for the participants, we could involve 16 male and 12 female national teams”.

“The will of LEN is to let the teams already qualified for European Championships keep playing and to increase the other teams’ number of games – Birri says -. In the past, the main problem for the weaker national teams was that they used to play only every two years, during the EC. But only a constant number of events and games can help the development of waterpolo, also promotionally and communicatively”. To LEN, the model to follow is the Champions League. “Champions League has become a brand and it’s growing steadily. Why don’t we include national teams into that growth? In Belgrade EC, in Budapest World Championships, but also during the World League, we have seen how international games can catch the audience in Europe. We would like to feed this audience’s interest, working not only on sports organization, which is the easiest one, but also on promotion, marketing and broadcasting. Speaking of that, I can announce that Eurovision will support us again”.

 The new European Cup for nations could be seen as a LEN’s reply to FINA, that would like to reduce Europe’s power in waterpolo’s decision-making. “The new competition will not be an alternative to the World League – Birri points out -, national teams will be able to participate in both of them. We don’t want problems with FINA, we are ready to cooperate. However, it should not be forgotten that 90% of the international waterpolo activities is in Europe and that the level of European teams is higher. We wanted to give those nations a chance to play more, to develop waterpolo and to increase promotional and marketing activities”.

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