European Aquatics is pleased to unveil the schedules of the 2024 European Water Polo Championships following confirmation that Eindhoven (NED) and Zagreb/Dubrovnik (CRO) will co-host the tournament in January.
Top water polo action is set to kick off in three cities with the men’s tournament starting on 4 January in Zagreb and Dubrovnik, while the women’s event begins a day later, on 5 January in Eindhoven.
The two division format will debut at this edition so excitement is guaranteed from Day 1 as the top eight teams will play fierce contests in the group stage before the knockout phase begins.
Better ranks in the group would secure extra rest days which will benefit the teams chasing the Olympic berth and World Championship spots.
Also, Division Two sides will fight for the top ranks in groups C and D to have a shot at making the first division in the crossover matches.
While the women’s tourney will be staged at a single venue in Eindhoven, the men’s event will run parallel in Zagreb and in Dubrovnik.
Both Croatian cities will enjoy Division One battles as Group A, featuring Hungary and Greece – the two finalists at the 2023 World Championship – will play in the capital,.
Title-holder Croatia, along with 2022 world champion Spain, will entertain the public in Dubrovnik, the pearl of the Adriatic coast.
From the crossover matches, all top-tier matches shall be held in Zagreb, while Dubrovnik will host the encounters played to decide ninth to 16th.
The women’s tournament will be a nine-day bonanza in Eindhoven, as the group stage rounds and the crossovers are played on back-to-back days and teams will enjoy rest days in the knockout phase.
Water polo was part of the ‘big Europeans’ from 1926 to 1997 before stand-alone championships were held from 1999, either in the same city or nearby, but usually in different pools.
In 2012 a January edition was introduced at which both tournaments were played in the same pool on alternating days.
That breakthrough event was staged in Eindhoven, in the state-of-the-art Pieter van den Hoogenband Complex which by then had become a treasured venue for European Aquatics as it hosted the aquatics Europeans in 2008 and the short-course swimming Euros in 2010.
Now the women’s event will head back to this wonderful pool although it’s not the first time it will be held separately from the men’s meet.
When the women’s Europeans made its debut in 1985, Oslo (NOR) welcomed the pioneers and back then it received a lot less attention than the ‘normal’ championships, held in Sofia, which traditionally included the men’s water polo meet.
Today the 2024 edition in Eindhoven will be a huge hit thanks to the evolution of women’s water polo over the four decades.
Back in 1985, the women contesting the first matches did not even dream of playing at the Olympics but now they are a constant feature at the Games and in Eindhoven a Paris 2024 berth is at stake as well.
This will also be the very first women’s tourney with 16 teams.
A bit of history will also be in the making when the men’s teams gather in Zagreb and Dubrovnik.
Although this is a sad consequence of events in Israel – with original hosts Netanya having to pull out – 2024 will be the first time the same country stages back-to-back editions of the WP Europeans and also the first time that matches will be shared among separate cities.
A fantastic tournament was staged in Split in 2022, now comes Zagreb and Dubrovnik.
The Croatian capital already appears on the historical list of hosts as the championships took place there in 2010.
Back then, the outdoor pool of the Mladost complex was transformed into an electrifying venue where the home side claimed the men’s crown for the first time.
Their second European gold came in Split last September so the home soil seems to bring luck for the Croats. If they can do it again, this time in the indoor pool, the triumph would also send them to Paris straight away.
The men’s tournament will run from 4 to 16 January, while the women will play from 5-13 January 2024.
2024 European Water Polo Championships: women’s tournament schedule
2024 European Water Polo Championships: men’s tournament schedule