Precedents in Spain
The European Water Polo Champions have taken place in Spain on 3 occasions. Barcelona will be, in 2018, the first city to host the tournament twice, after organizing it in 1970. The setting will be the same, the Bernat Picornell Pools, that were inaugurated in 1969, just before the first championships.
After Barcelona, the European Water Polo Championships took place in Seville (1997) and Malaga (2008). In 1997 the old format was still in place (multidisciplinary, with swimming, diving and synchronized swimming events), finally evolving before Malaga 2008 (only water polo).
The 1970 event was a success: the championships were held in 3 different facilities, the Picornell, the Sant Jordi Pool and the pool at Club Natació Sabadell. The matches were hosted between September 5-12 1970. The Soviet Union took gold after beating Hungary in the final, and Yugoslavia finished 3rd.
The Spanish National Team, coached by the famous Bandy Zolyomy, finished 8th. With Joan Jané, who scored 18 goals during the tournament, was the 2nd leading goalscorer. Spain won 2 matches in the 1st phase (10-2 against Bulgary and 10-1 against Finland) and lost the other 2 (3-8 against the USSR and 3-4 against Romania), which forced them to play for the 9th to 12th positions.
In 1997, the championships landed in Seville, more precisely at the Complejo Deportivo San Pablo, which was built for the occasion and has currently fallen into disuse. They took place between August 13-22 and the podium was very similar to that of Barcelona almost 3 decades before: Gold for Hungary, lead by the legendary Tibor Benedek, Silver for Yugoslavia, that had eliminated Spain in the quarter-finals (10-9), and Bronze for Russia. Spain finished 5th.
As for the women’s tournament, the Spanish National Team showed its amazing potential finishing 4th after losing the bronze medal game to The Netherlands. Italy took Gold and Russia Silver.
The latest European Water Polo Championships that took place in Spain date from 2008. Malaga hosted the competition at the Centro Acuático de Málaga, a magnificent facility built for the occasion. Montenegro, Serbia and Hungary topped the men’s podium, and Spain finished 7th.
The women’s tournament was a huge stepping stone for the Spanish National team, that won Silver after losing to Russia in a close final (8-9). The team, lead by Viçens Tarrés, had already in its ranks most of the players who would go on to win Silver at the London Olympics and Gold in Barcelona. Hungary finished 3rd.