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Widening the Net

The FIVB (International Volleyball Federation) has taken a leaf out of UEFA’s book by proposing multiple hosts for its flagship national team tournament.

Volleyball’s global governing body is considering shaking up its showpiece event, with FIVB president Dr. Ary S. Graça declaring an interest in implementing a new multi-host strategy for the 2018 men’s World Championship.

The FIVB council will make a decision on whether to proceed with the plan early next year, but Graça told SportBusiness International that the body has been considering a multi-host structure “for some time”.

The multi-host approach to major events has been talked about since late-2012 when UEFA decided Euro 2020 would be held across 13 different countries.

“There are many strong sporting reasons for splitting the event between two or more countries, and we are seriously considering whether each country has the right venues and capacity to host this important event before the council makes a final decision,” says Graça.

“The multi-host structure is advantageous in many ways. This new approach is an opportunity for more fans to experience a premier volleyball event. It will bring the magic of volleyball to more fans and media each year, enabling them to watch some of the world’s greatest athletes first hand.”

Discussions over the proposal appear to have gathered pace since this year’s edition of the event, which took place in Poland from August 30 to September 21. The event generated more than 555,000 ticket sales, a record for the competition.

Graça also believes that the new approach could reduce the financial burden for hosts, which is a major factor currently taking its toll in the bidding for the 2022 winter Olympic Games.

“The FIVB does not want potential host nations to feel daunted by the cost of the championship,” he adds.

“At a time when cities are concerned about return on investment and the high costs of hosting sporting events, we want to make sure we adapt to ensure the best experience for the whole volleyball family.

“This new approach is also aligned with the FIVB’s vision for volleyball, ensuring it is a globally available sport. We are working hard to bring volleyball to new markets all the time and any opportunity that can be leveraged to develop the sport in new territories will be considered.”

The apparent likelihood of the proposal being approved, however, has thrown up an interesting conundrum for the FIVB, with a number of countries having already expressed an interest in staging the event on their own.

Whether these same countries would consider sharing hosting duties is yet to be confirmed, but Graça says that the “positive verbal feedback” received at the FIVB World Congress in Sardinia at the end of October suggested that the idea could be popular.

The FIVB does not
want potential host
nations to feel
daunted by the
cost of the
championship

“Qatar, Russia, Poland and Italy are currently the main candidates [for the 2018 World Championship], but other options will also be considered to ensure that we are moving forward and expanding the volleyball community to new markets.”

Qatar and Russia, two countries that were considered by many observers to be front-runners before news of the possible adoption of a multi-host format, would be “fantastic hosts” of the championship, adds Graça.

However, sharing the hosting rights between two destinations – which are more than 1,000 miles apart – would be seen by many as problematic.

“For obvious organisational reasons, we would favour neighbouring countries, but we have not made a final decision yet,” he adds, before pointing out the broader logistical issues that come with a multi-host structure.

“One of the obvious challenges would be athletes having to travel between matches. This is a challenge that the organisers and the FIVB are very aware of. Athletes will always be at the core of our decisions and so this is one challenge that we will seriously consider before coming to a final conclusion.” 

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