How Big Is Handball In Germany? Here’s What You Need to Know

There are 18 teams (men’s) and 12 teams (women’s) in the Handball Bundesliga in Germany. German handball national handball teams are IHF-ranked no.1 in the world. Both national teams share 4 World Championship titles.

There are 34 handball games played per season in the German Handball Bundesliga. The teams fight on a points-based system for the title of champions. The champions automatically qualify for the EHF Champions League competition. The 2nd and the 3rd position team at the end of the season also qualify for the first tier European handball club competition.

How big is a handball in Germany? Data, players, comparisons in quick blurbs

  • Handball is behind football in popularity in Germany
  • A German national handball team player earns €22.437 per month (footballers earn €660.000 per month)
  • There are 750.000 handball players in Germany
  • The biggest handball match attendance record was set in Germany
  • 44.189 fans attended the record-breaking match between Velux EHF and HSV Hamburg

How many people play handball in Germany?

There over more than 750.000 players who play handball in Germany. This includes men’s and women’s professional teams, youth teams, and various under 20 teams as well as amateur players.

German handball history and background

With a tradition of 100 years, handball in Germany is bigger than ever before. The first rules of the game were published in the country in 1917. Berlin, the country’s capital city, hosted the first official handball game in history.

German Bundesliga and its popularity

First, second and third-tier handball matches are televised or streamed in Germany. The popularity of the first division Bundesliga has been increasing over the past few years. Since 2007, the league has Toyota as its main sponsor and it has some financial backing, albeit not at the level of other team sports.

If in the past the Bundesliga was split into the Northern and the Southern parts of the country, clubs face each other in the same league today. Even the 2 Bundesliga isn’t split anymore and all teams from the second tier competition play each other without geographical boundaries. This league receives 2 relegating teams form the 1 Bundesliga every year.

The 1 Bundesliga is dominated by THW Kiel, playing at the 10.000 seaters Sparkassen-Arena Kiel arena. The club won the last league titles in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015. It currently holds 20 national champions titles.

The second team with most championship titles is VfL Gummersbach. The club plays in the town of Gummersbach with a population of just 50.000. Even if the team is just behind THW Kiel in titles, it now plays in the 2 Bundesliga and the last titles in the first tier club competition were won back in 1991.

The current champion team, SG Flensburg-Handewitt, comes from the cities of Flensburg and Flensburg. The team is rather new, being founded in 1990.

SV Polizei Hamburg was the first 1 Bundesliga champion club. As its name suggests, the team was part of the Hamburg Security Police.

Germany’s handball national team

The German national handball team is always among the best in the world. It won the World Championship in 2007 and it came in fourth at the 2019 World Championship hosted in Germany and Denmark.

In 2007, Germany’s men’s handball team played Poland in the final match. The Germans won by 29 – 24, a tight score and a beautiful game.

The future of handball in Germany

Many expected an explosion of handball popularity in Germany after the last World Cup. Yet, this failed to happen. In a Deutsche Welle editorial, handball fans in the country are told the cold hard truth. The sport’s comparison to football brings plenty of frustration. Instead, handball in Germany should focus on itself and what it can do for its fans as well as for the people wanting to stay healthy while playing the fast-paced sport.

photo credits (c) Marko Verch

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