New Arena Needed for Iceland’s 2031 Handball Host Role

Iceland crowd

Iceland is set to co-host the 2031 Handball World Championship with Denmark and Norway. Iceland’s ability to host hinges on the completion of a new national arena by 2031, without which it would have to withdraw, a spokesperson for the Icelandic Handball Federation has noted.

A new national arena a prerequisite

As noted by IR yesterday, Iceland will host the 2031 Handball World Championship along with Denmark and Norway. A new National Arena is deemed essential for Iceland to be able to host the event.

In an interview with RÚV yesterday, Róbert Geir Gíslason, General Manager of the Icelandic Handball Federation (HSÍ), noted that Iceland would have to withdraw from hosting the tournament in the event that the new national arena was not completed in time.

“We know the arena is currently in the tendering process. Regarding the design, we are promised that it will be ready by 2028 or 2029. We fully trust that this timeline will hold,” he observed. When asked if there was a contingency plan if the new national arena failed to materialise, Róbert responded that Iceland would have to withdraw its participation.

As noted by RÚV, the government has committed to erecting a new arena by 2028 or 2029. In September 2023, the completion was scheduled for late 2026, but that date has now been pushed back.

“I believe that if we do not have a national arena – if it’s not ready by 2031 – we will somehow have to withdraw. It’s clear. It is an absolute prerequisite for us to meet the tournament’s minimum requirements. The national arena is what we need to meet those,” Róbert explained.

A total of 21 games to be played in Iceland

Iceland will host two groups during the group stages of the tournament along with hosting an intermediate round. RÚV notes that 21 games in total will be played in Laugardalur, Reykjavík, with Iceland playing eight games at home if everything goes as planned. The other six groups will be played in Norway and Denmark, and three intermediate rounds will be played in these countries as well.

“We didn’t have the option to host this alone,” Róbert explained. “We will host two groups and one intermediate round here. So we are getting eight nations here, or seven including us. That’s big enough for us for now.”

As noted by RÚV, Iceland has previously hosted a major tournament, namely the 1995 World Championship. Thirty-six years will thus have passed since Iceland last hosted a World Championship by the time the 2031 World Championship comes around. Róbert observed that being chosen to host the event was a significant recognition for Iceland as a sporting nation.

“We are very proud. This is great news and a significant recognition for us as a sporting nation. A great acknowledgement of the work of HSÍ and the clubs across the country.”

HSÍ has been working on the project with the government and the Icelandic Tourism Board.

“This has been a long process and we are very grateful to the government and the Icelandic Tourism Board for their help. It has been a lot of work both for them and us, in close cooperation with Denmark and Norway.”

2031 Handball World Championship to Take Place in Iceland

Laugardalur, Reykjavík

The 2031 IHF Men’s World Championship will take place collectively in Iceland, Denmark and Norway, the International Handball Federation (IHF) announced today. The handball games taking place in Iceland should be played at the new National Arena in Laugardalur, Reykjavík, according to a RÚV report. Authorities have already announced that the long-awaited arena should be up and running by 2031.

Small nation success

Iceland submitted the joint application with Denmark and Norway this time, but hosted the games alone in 1995. “This joint effort will not only elevate handball in Iceland, but also show and prove that small nations can organise major sporting events through strong international cooperation,” said Guðmundur B. Ólafsson, president of the Icelandic Handball Association.

Popular sport in Iceland

Handball is a popular sport in Iceland. The women’s national team competed in the World Championship last year and have qualified for this year’s European Championship, a tournament they also qualified for in 2010 and 2012. The men’s national team has also historically been competitive on the international stage, winning a silver medal at the 2008 Olympic Games in China.

The IHF also announced today that the 2029 IHF Men’s World Championship would take place in France and Germany, with the 2029 IHF Women’s World Championship set in Spain and the 2031 edition in Czechia and Poland.

Iceland Qualifies for Women’s Handball Euro

Stavanger, Norway

With a victory over the Faroe Islands Sunday, Iceland women’s national handball team has qualified for the 2024 European Women’s Handball Championship.

Iceland beat the Faroe Islands 24-20 with a big performance from Elín Klara Þorkelsdóttir, who scored 10 goals, RÚV reports. Goalkeeper Elín Jóna Þorsteinsdóttir blocked 16 shots, including three penalty shots.

Dominant performance

The Faroese team led for part of the first half, but Iceland took over the game, leading by four goals at half-time. Iceland’s defence was stellar, limiting Faroe Islands to 8 goals in the first half. Iceland held the lead for the entire second half.

At the end of the game, which took place at Ásvellir stadium in Hafnarfjörður, there was much celebration, as the Faroe Islands also secured qualification despite the loss.

Back in the big tournaments

The tournament will take place in Austria, Hungary and Switzerland in November and December this year and will feature 24 teams. Norway are the two time defending champions.

Iceland has appeared in the tournament twice before, in 2010 and 2012. The women’s national handball team also qualified for the World Championship last year, where the team beat Congo to finish in 25th place.

Women’s Handball Team Seeks Crucial Points in Euro Qualifiers

Iceland crowd

The women’s national handball team will face Luxembourg today in a vital away match for the 2024 European Women’s Handball Championship qualifiers. Iceland needs a win to boost their qualification hopes ahead of their final group game against the Faroe Islands on Sunday.

A vital match

The final stages of the 2024 European Women’s Handball Championship qualifiers are approaching, with Iceland facing Luxembourg in an away match for the penultimate match of the group.

As noted by RÚV, Iceland is in a strong position within the group, holding four points, the same as the Faroe Islands. Sweden meanwhile has already secured a spot in the tournament, leading the group with eight points, or a full tally. Luxembourg sits at the bottom of the group without any points.

Those teams that secure the two top spots in the group will automatically qualify for the European Championship. It is also possible for the third-place team to qualify for the championship depending on the number of points accumulated by third-place teams once all the matches across the eight groups have been played.

As noted by RÚV, Iceland needs a victory against Luxembourg today to improve its position before facing the Faroe Islands in the final match on Sunday. The Faroe Islands and Sweden will meet in Tórshavn tonight. If Sweden wins its game and Iceland defeats Luxembourg, the Icelandic team will have six points, while the Faroe Islands will remain at four.

Iceland defeated Luxembourg in their first encounter 32-14. The Icelandic team also secured a victory against the Faroe Islands in Tórshavn 28-23. The match between Iceland and Luxembourg starts at 4.45 PM today. It will be broadcast live on RÚV.

Plans for New National Arena Announced

Laugardalur, Reykjavík

A new National Arena for sports will seat 8,600 attendees and be opened to the public in 2027 or 2028. At a press conference yesterday, Minister of Education and Children Ásmundur Einar Daðason announced an open competition for the design and construction of the building, which is to be located in Laugardalur in Reykjavík.

The National Arena will cost an approximate ISK 15 Billion [$110 Million, €100 Million] and will be in 55% ownership of the Icelandic state and 45% by Reykjavík city, Mbl.is reports.

Handball championship dreams

Iceland has a joint bid with Denmark and Norway to host the 2029 or 2031 World Men’s Handball Championship. When asked about the arena’s capacity, Ásmundur said jovially that that he could see the arena being completely packed with people “when Iceland becomes world champion”.

The design competition will be open to teams that include an architect, an engineer and contractors. Qualifying teams will receive funding to prepare a design proposal and a bid in accordance with specs and cost projections.

Football, track and field next

Two other sports-related construction projects are still in the early stages, a National Stadium for football and a National Stadium for track and field. Ásmundur said that the arena was being prioritised as it could be completed more easily and service youth sports and local sport clubs as well.

Olympics Dream Over for Iceland

The Iceland men’s national handball team saw its hopes for a berth at the 2024 Summer Olympics in France slip away last night. Despite beating Austria 26 to 24 in a pivotal game yesterday afternoon, an unfavourable result in another match meant that Iceland would not move on to the Olympics qualifiers in March.

Iceland’s team has not appeared in the Olympics since the 2012 London games. The team has historically been competitive on the international stage and handball remains very popular in Iceland. The team’s greatest success was the silver medal in the 2008 Olympic Games in China.

Victory in a must-win game

Iceland faced Austria in a must-win game yesterday, the last one of the main round. The team’s hopes of advancing to the knockout stage had already been dashed, but an important consolation prize loomed if everything went right; placement in the Olympics qualifiers.

Iceland saw its first half lead slip away in the second half as the offence stagnated. Scoreless for a 14 minutes stretch, Iceland was still able to secure the victory by two goals in the end. Both starting goalkeepers, Austria’s Constantin Möstl and Iceland’s Viktor Hallgrímsson, played superbly. Sigvaldi Björn Guðjónsson scored eight goals for Iceland and Aron Pálmarsson seven.

France too strong

With a victory in hand, Iceland’s team would need to wait for results from the match between France and Hungary. France had already secured a spot as one of the four teams to move on to the second round, while Hungary would stand a fighting chance with a win over France. A Hungary victory or a tie would have given Iceland a shot at the Olympics qualifiers. However, France proved too dominant and secured the victory.

 

Iceland’s Hopes of a Medal Dashed

Iceland men’s national handball team lost to Germany in their main round match-up of the 2024 European men’s handball championship yesterday. The defeat means that the team now has no chance of climbing the standings to reach the knockout rounds and compete for a medal.

Iceland still has a chance of winning enough games to secure a spot in the Olympics qualifiers to be held in March. They must win at least two of their last three games for that to be possible, Morgunblaðið reports. Reaching the qualifiers is Iceland’s last chance to compete for a berth at this year’s Summer Olympics in France.

A tough defeat

The match took place at the Lanxess Arena in Cologne, with rivals Germany enjoying home court advantage as hosts of the tournament. Germany led by one goal at half-time, but when 10 minutes were left, Iceland took its first lead of the game. By the end, Germany pulled back in front and held on to their lead. Iceland’s top scorer was Janus Daði Smárason with six goals. Juri Knorr scored six for Germany as well.

“I’m hurt, upset, and bummed out,” coach Snorri Steinn Guðjónsson told Morgunblaðið after the game. “At the same time, I’m proud of the boys.”

Icelandic record broken

Iceland will face France Saturday, Croatia Monday and Austria Wednesday. Iceland needs at least two victories against these tough opponents to reach the Olympics qualifiers and must secure more points than at least one of Austria, Portugal, Slovenia and the Netherlands to stand a chance.

An Icelandic record was broken yesterday when France’s 40-year old Nikola Karabatic scored his 289th goal in his European championship career. The record for most goals in the tournament was previously held by retired Iceland player Guðjón Valur Sigurðsson, who scored 288 competition goals during his illustrious handball career.

Coach Snorri Calls for Tactical Rethink After Hungary Defeat

Head coach Snorri Steinn speaks to RÚV after yesterday's game

Iceland’s men’s national handball team suffered a 25-33 defeat against Hungary in the 2024 European Men’s Handball Championship but still advanced to the intermediate round due to Montenegro’s win over Serbia. Coach Snorri Steinn Guðjónsson expressed disappointment with the team’s performance, particularly in the second half, and acknowledged the need for tactical adjustments before their upcoming matches against Germany, France, Austria, and Croatia.

Disappointment after heavy defeat

The men’s national handball team suffered a heavy defeat against Hungary last night, 25-33, in the 2024 European Men’s Handball Championship. Despite the loss, Iceland has advanced to the intermediate round, thanks to a victory by Montenegro over Serbia. The team advances into the intermediate round with zero points and a negative-eight goal difference where four games await. Viggó Kristjánsson was Iceland’s top scorer with eight goals.

Snorri Steinn Guðjónsson, head coach of the national team, was understandably disappointed after the game. Speaking to RÚV after the match, Snorri described the second half as terrible and believes his attackers need to improve their efficiency.

“These are big disappointments. But we did not deserve anything more from the game. The performance was lacklustre, and the second half was terrible.”

When asked about a possible lack of spirit in the team, he replied, “We just collapsed and became listless. What worked in the first half – the defence and the intensity – just wasn’t there in the second half. One thing led to another. Turnovers and missed opportunities. It’s the same story. One thing leads to another. When nothing is right, naturally, the game goes like this.”

No clear explanation

Snorri had no ready answers about what was affecting their efficiency. “It’s just poor. We can’t find explanations for it. It’s something the players need to buckle down on. It goes without saying that at this level, such lapses can’t be afforded.”

Snorri added that whenever a team becomes guilty of so many technical errors and poor execution, the game is a foregone conclusion. He also discussed the lack of shots from range. Snorri took responsibility for the loss, adding that the coaching team would need to review the performance. “I take the blame for the tactical approach to the game. It was not good enough. The opportunities we’re getting, we’re not utilising them. But I need to delve into it.”

Ahead are four games in the intermediate round against Germany, France, Austria, and Croatia.

“This was our first match in the intermediate round — and we lost. Consequently, we have no points to carry forward. This makes our journey tougher. There’s little time between matches, but that doesn’t alter the fact that we need to critically analyse our performance. We must make some adjustments because this approach isn’t delivering results in the intermediate round.”

 

Handball Team Kicks Off Euro Run with a Draw

In a nail-biter Friday, the Iceland men’s national handball team managed a late-game onslaught to secure a draw against Serbia in both countries’ opening game of the 2024 European men’s handball championship.

The match took place in Munich’s Olympic Hall and began with a strong defensive effort from both teams, as Iceland’s goalkeeper Viktor Gísli Hallgrímsson blocked a couple of difficult shots. After leading at half-time by one goal, Iceland saw Serbia begin to pull away. Led by top goalscorer Dragan Pechmalbec, Serbia held on to their advantage until the final two minutes. Two late goals from Aron Pálmarsson and the equaliser from Sigvaldi Björn Guðjónsson saved Iceland’s team from an opening loss.

Bjarki Már Elísson scored seven goals for Iceland, while Sigvaldi contributed six. Goalkeeper Viktor blocked 14 shots.

Next up, Montenegro

This edition of the tournament is hosted by Germany. After securing qualification and becoming one of the 24 national teams taking part, Iceland was drawn to face Hungary and Montenegro, along with Serbia, in the tournament’s Group C. The group’s top two teams will move on to the tournament’s main round and, if successful there, the knockout stage. With Hungary beating Montenegro in their opener, Iceland and Serbia are now tied for Group C’s second place with one point each.

“I’m not so happy with the performance,” Bjarki said after the game. “I thought we didn’t play so good through the match and we have to do better in the next one for sure. But we take the point to go on for sure.” Iceland will face Montenegro on Sunday and Hungary on Tuesday to close out Group C action, with both games taking place in the Olympic Hall.

Handball nation

The Iceland men’s national handball team has historically been very competitive on the international stage and the sport is very popular in Iceland. The team’s greatest success was the silver medal in the 2008 Olympic Games in China.

This was the second time Iceland faced Serbia in the opening game of a men’s Euro tournament and the second time that opener ended with a draw. After their first Euro match-up in 2010, Iceland went on to secure their best result ever in the tournament by winning the bronze medal.

Men’s Handball Team Defeats Israel to Qualify for Euro 2024

Handball

The men’s national handball team defeated Israel in Tel Aviv yesterday. The victory means that Iceland has qualified for the 2024 European Men’s Handball Championship.

An eleven-goal victory in Tel Aviv

The Icelandic men’s handball team secured a convincing 37-26 victory against Israel at the Shlomo Group Arena in Tel Aviv, Israel, yesterday. As noted by Mbl.is, the Icelandic team had a 19-11 advantage at halftime and the victory was never in danger. Kristján Örn Kristjáns­son was Iceland’s top scorer with six goals.

The victory means that the Icelandic team has qualified for the 2024 European Mens Handball Championship. If Iceland beats Estonia in Reykjavík on Sunday, the team will finish top of the group, and will, therefore, go into the tournament in Germany in the top strength category when the groups are drawn at the final tournament in Germany.

Iceland’s match against Estonia will take place in the Laugardalshöll arena in Reykjavík on Sunday at 4 PM.