Germany is on the brink of making sports history with an upcoming handball match between Germany and Switzerland in Düsseldorf, poised to become the most attended handball game ever.
This monumental event is set to take place at the Merkur Spiel-Arena on Wednesday, during the opening day of the European Handball Championship (EM).
The record for the largest crowd at a handball match has been broken several times over the past two decades. In 2011, Denmark set the record during the DM final at Parken between AG København and Bjerringbro-Silkeborg. This record was later surpassed in 2014 in Germany when a Bundesliga match between Rhein-Neckar Löwen and HSV Hamburg in Frankfurt attracted 44,189 spectators.
The upcoming match on Wednesday is expected to shatter previous records, with more than 53,000 spectators anticipated to fill the Merkur Spiel-Arena. The day's events will begin with France playing against North Macedonia at 18:00, followed by the record-breaking match between Germany and Switzerland at 20:45.
Preparations for this grand event have been underway for several years. Hannes Müller, responsible for EM tournaments under the European Handball Federation (EHF), stated that planning began in 2021 with the first technical inspection. The EHF and all involved groups have been working on this project for nearly three years, as reported by the German media outlet Zeit Online.
After Fortuna Düsseldorf's last home game in December 2023, the stadium’s roof was closed, and the grass surface was removed to make way for the handball event. Trucks brought in various materials, and additional stands were constructed at pitch level to accommodate 9,000 more spectators. Approximately 25,000 parts were used for these stands.
The handball floor was laid down just four days before the championship, ensuring optimal playing conditions with a temperature of 22 degrees on the court. Once the handball matches conclude, the grass will return to the stadium, which is also slated to host European Football Championship matches in June this year.