One month before the final of the Fistball World Championship, the World Cup trophy arrived in the host city of Mannheim and landed safely. At 3:05 p.m., the helicopter carrying the valuable trophy touched down on the tarmac of Mannheim Airport – on board were IFA President Jörn Verleger, Vice President Steve Schmutzler and World Championship Managing Director Sönke Spille, who were ceremoniously received after their landing. They were surrounded by children who stood guard for them on the way to the terminal with the flags of the 16 participating countries.
Until the very end, it was a secret who would bring the trophy to Mannheim alongside the president of the world federation. With Schmutzler, one of Germany’s 2019 world champions in Winterthur, Switzerland, passed the trophy on to Fistball MWC ambassador Henning Fritz, who accepted the winner’s trophy and then took it to the SAP Arena, where the final will be played on July 29. Before that, Fritz will present the 48-centimeter-high, 5.2-kilogram glass trophy once again at the opening ceremony.
This marks the start of the countdown to the World Cup, which aims to provide outstanding sporting moments in Mannheim from July 22 to 29. “You can’t believe that in one month the final day of the Fistball World Championship is already coming up and the preparations are thus entering the home stretch. All 16 nations have nominated their squads in the meantime – and the entire fistball world can hardly wait for the title bouts to start here in Mannheim,” said World Championship Managing Director Sönke Spille. “The rising anticipation can also be felt in the region. More than 22,000 tickets are now sold out for the World Championships week.”
Jörn Verleger, president of the International Fistball Association (IFA), emphasized the importance of this World Championship, which is being held in Germany for the fourth time after 1972, 1982 and 2007. “Germany has a long tradition and great experience in hosting fistball events. But this World Cup will be something very special. It is not only a milestone, but can become a door opener for the sport of fistball.”
The group matches will be played in the Rhein-Neckar Stadium, and the fistballers will move to the SAP Arena for the finals on July 28 and 29. Jörn Verleger pointed to the novelty of natural grass being laid for the first time in the 12,000-seat multi-sport arena. “This arena is very impressive. Spectators and players will experience goosebump moments.” From a sporting perspective, the World Championship tournament is also important because the first tickets for the 2025 World Games in Chengdu will be awarded.
Starting on July 22, 16 teams from five continents will compete against each other to hold the trophy in their hands – on July 29, we will know whether Germany will succeed in defending its title. World handball player Hennig Fritz knows what it’s like to become world champion in your own country. “A home World Cup is something very special,” said Fritz: “From my own experience, I know how the support of one’s own fans can inspire athletes and spur them on to very special performances.”
Moreover, the former Bundesliga goalkeeper, who played for the Rhein-Neckar Löwen between 2007 and 2012, knows the SAP Arena. “If the arena is sold out, then the atmosphere will be great. I wish the guys that they can soak up the feeling in front of their own fans and turn that into positive energy for themselves.”
Attractive supporting program
Not only on, but also off the pitch, there will be a lot on offer for fans, visitors, but also for everyone in the Rhine-Neckar region throughout the World Cup. There will be a Kids Area in the Rhine-Neckar Stadium with a wide variety of games and sports activities, such as small fistball challenges, but also a bouncy castle, can throwing, face painting for children or autograph sessions.
“In addition, we offer childcare in our Kids Club on the first six days. There will be daily events in the marquee, including a live band, DJ and big World Cup closing party – with no admission charge. I’m particularly looking forward to Schools Day, when we’ll be welcoming more than 2,500 schoolchildren to the stadium on Monday morning, July 24, for the match between Germany and Italy, followed by a wide range of sports activities throughout the campus,” emphasized Sönke Spille.
Tickets for all eight days of the World Cup are available at tickets.faustballwm.de.