LEN Opening Press Conference
Championships of records
A handful of records in sight that was the conclusion of the LEN/LOC Opening Press Conference held in Belgrade, one day before the start of the 32nd European Water Polo Championships. This event can surpass all previous editions in terms of attendance, TV and internet exposure and will surely be the biggest ever with 28 teams participating and contesting 100 matches in the following two weeks.
LEN President Paolo Barelli thanked the Serbian Government, the city of Belgrade, the Serbian Water Polo Federation and the Organising Committee for the tremendous efforts offered to stage a really memorable competition. Within fifteen days two temporary pools were set up and all the necessary works were carried out on time to create a perfect environment, this is truly a miracle the President said.
The water polo Europeans return to Belgrade after ten years and by recalling the great memories of the 2006 tournament Paolo Barelli added he was sure that this upcoming edition would also be a huge hit. The love of water polo, the enthusiasm Serbia has for this sport all guarantee a wonderful event. The Kombank Arena with a seating capacity of 11.000 spectators will ensure a record attendance for a single game and for the entire event, too. Also, this will be the biggest championships in LEN history featuring 16 men and 12 women team who will contest 100 games in two weeks. We do hope that this event will promote the beauty of water polo at the highest level again.
Executive Director Paulo Frischknecht said that this year LEN celebrates the 90th anniversary of the first Europeans, staged in 1926 in Budapest. The Belgrade event will be worthy of the great traditions: This is a new chapter as we will have the entire tournament played in a temporary pool. In 1995 the mens event was held in the Ernst Happel stadium in Vienna in an outdoor pool now we came to a large multipurpose arena for the first time ever which will cater all demands of all participants, the teams, the fans, the broadcasters Paulo Frischknecht said. He added that this is the second time when this continental showcase is staged in January. The first one in Eindhoven four years ago was a tremendous success and we expect even better figures and bigger exposure in all fields.
On behalf of the local organisers Serbian Water Polo Federation President Milorad Krivokapic and LOC Director Darko Udovicic both hailed the support of the Government and especially the Ministry of Youth and Sport (led by the former water polo star, Vanja Udovicic) and they also paid thanks for the members of the organising team for doing their utmost to deliver everything on time.
LEN Operational Manager Marco Birri shared a couple of further data demonstrating how big the event had grown: For the first time ever we will have 31 broadcasters offering live coverage from Belgrade, involving territories outside Europe, for instance Japan and the United States. LEN also provides live streaming of each of 100 games on our website. Marco Birri also mentioned that 300 media representatives were granted accreditation, 100 more than two years ago in Budapest.
LEN TWPC Chairman Gianni Lonzi shared the basic information about the Olympic qualification: the best teams without an Olympic berth will book their places in Rio while the next five highest ranked sides in both genders can take part in the respective Olympic qualification tournaments in the spring.
In the second part of the press conference representatives of the Serbian national teams, head coaches Vladimir Bajkovic and Dejan Savic, captains Zivko Gocic and Dragan Ivkovic, as well as Croatian head coach Ivica Tucak and captain Josip Pavic talked to the reporters. Though the opening day will be highlighted the mouth-watering clash of the Serbs and the Croats, both sides agreed that the outcome of this fight would not matter that much in this long, two-week event.