The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) has confirmed its Volleyball World League will expand from 18 to 28 competing countries from next year.
The change means that Slovakia, Belgium, Tunisia, Turkey and Mexico are all set to make their debuts in the annual men’s volleyball event, which runs from May until July.
The league concludes with a Final Six event on July 16-20. Four of the six finalists will be drawn from the line-ups of Pool A and B.
World No.1 and nine-time champion Brazil faces eight-time winner Italy, 2012 champion Poland and Iran in Pool A, while defending champion Russia and 2012 runner-up USA join Bulgaria and Serbia in Pool B.
The announcement was made during the FIVB World League Council’s annual one-day meeting at its head office in Lausanne on Sunday.
FIVB president Dr. Ary S. Graça said: “This new direction is all about growing volleyball and providing opportunities for federations to play. It is very clear for me, the future is today and we are doing something different. This is the new era and I would like to congratulate the new countries who are involved, who now have an opportunity to play on the world stage.”
This year the World League featured 18 teams for the first time having had 16 teams from 2001-03 and 2006-12. The World League featured eight teams in its inaugural year in 1990, 10 in 1991 and then 12 from 1992-2000 and 2004-05.