Austria is a country with longstanding and proud handball traditions, and the handball fans are now excited about the prospects of having an absolute top event take place in their midst over the next two weeks. The fans are likely to contribute to an atmosphere where the recently less than successful Austrian men’s team will be urged to put up a strong fight. One of the most prominent and devoted fans will be Erwin Lanc, IHF President during the period 1984-2000.
Erwin Lanc certainly did not disappear from the public domain when he left the IHF. He continued through 2008 as president of the prestigious International Institute for Peace (IIP), an organization that he had personally revived in 1989. He remains active there, for instance through lecturing, as well as in other international organizations, especially with an emphasis on achieving better relations with the Arab world. Of course, before he came to the IHF, Erwin Lanc had had a long and distinguished career in politics and in the Austrian government, crowned by his tenure as Foreign Minister.
But as President Lanc amply demonstrated during his years of leadership in the IHF, handball has indeed a special place in his heart, and it very much continues to be on his agenda. He still follows handball closely, both on the international scene and through his old local club, the WAT Margareten (‘aon fivers’). In fact, he and his wife Chris recently accompanied the team to Sweden, but their support could not help prevent an early exit of their favorites from the EHF Cup Winners’ Cup.
When now the EURO 2010 gets underway, Erwin Lanc will not just sit back as a spectator and enjoy the VIP treatment he deserves. No, he has been enlisted by the Austrian organizers to assist them in connection with the many ceremonial and ‘diplomatic’ functions that always go hand in hand with a major sports event. But I am sure he will still have the time to enjoy the games, diplomatically correct in applauding all good performances but still very much keeping his fingers crossed for success on the part of the Austrian team. It is certainly nice to observe that he is ‘still going strong!’