Elevating the Champions of Europe – the vision behind the European Championships

The highly successful UEFA Champions League may not be an obvious link to the inaugural multisport European Championships but it planted the seeds that bore fruit in Glasgow and Berlin in the summer of 2018. 

Two men involved in the revamping of football’s premier club competition – Paul Bristow and Marc Joerg – felt there was a major hole to be filled in Europe by bringing the existing European Championships of a limited number of high-profile sports together under one umbrella.

Paul Bristow Director of European Championships Management
Paul Bristow, Director of European Championships Management
European Championships Management

It is a proven fact that there is greater interest – in terms of attendance and television audiences – for multi-sports events rather than separate, individual championships.  In simple terms, they knew that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, when the right combination of sports are brought together.

That’s exactly what they did for the Glasgow/Berlin 2018 European Championships with Aquatics, Cycling, Golf, Gymnastics, Rowing and Triathlon taking place across central Scotland and Berlin hosting Athletics.

European Championships Management, co-founded by Bristow and Joerg, are the developers of the event concept, and provide the coordination and implementation of the European Championships on behalf of the participating European Federations, the host cities and the broadcast partner, the European Broadcasting Union.

It has been a long time in the making with many hurdles along the way but the concept finally emerged in Auggust 2018 and now, every four years, the multi-sport European Championships will be staged – perhaps the biggest innovation in European sport in the last 25 years after – yes – the UEFA Champions League.

“We identified that we needed between six to eight sports for the first edition and were fortunate to talk to Glasgow when it was in the midst of their preparations to stage the 2014 Commonwealth Games. Glasgow understood the power of the event and we were absolutely delighted when they committed to staging the inaugural Championships as a co-host city with Berlin,” says Bristow. (Berlin were already in place as hosts of the European Athletics Championships.)

There are certain collective principles for the stakeholders – the need for the event to be sustainable and cost-efficient, and for the event to be run by the European Federations. They also share a collective vision – to create a must-watch and must-attend experience that elevates the Champions of Europe.

Marc Joerg, Director of European Championships Management
Marc Joerg, Director of European Championships Management
European Championships Management

“To become a European Champion means that you are the best out of 850 million people on this continent, and this should be celebrated at the highest-possible level,” says Bristow.

The existing European Championships – which have a combined 450 years of history – have come together in a sustainable format in order to continue building their prestige, profile and media exposure. A common umbrella branding of the new European Championships is applied on-site, on-air, in digital and print media, across all participating sports.

“The timetable of the individual championships is fully co-ordinated into one overall schedule across the 7 sports to maximise media exposure as well as TV spectator experience,” says Joerg ahead of the first edition. “Over 40 broadcasters have signed up to show the first edition, with up to 12 hours a day of coverage and a potential television audience of over 1 billion.”

There were a total of 188 medal events held across the 11 days of competition in Scotland and Berlin, with a trophy awarded to the winning nation across the 7 sports. There was also a ground-breaking cultural partnership between the host cities, and a festival of sporting and cultural activity at George Square in Glasgow and the European Mile at the Breitscheidplatz in Berlin.

"We want to thank the European Federations, the EBU and Glasgow and Berlin for their courage in seizing the opportunity to be involved in such an innovative event. The cooperation between the different stakeholders showcases a spirit of unity that I hope we can carry on to 2022 and beyond," says Joerg.

With so much hard work and preparation completed, #TheMoment is here for the first – of many – multisport European Championships.