The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) has revealed details of its new Nations League, which will launch in 2018.
The FIVB has said that the new tournament will revolutionise competitive volleyball and become one of the most important events in the history of the sport.
The Volleyball Nations League is a joint venture between the FIVB, the IMG agency and 21 national federations. The men’s and women’s leagues will comprise 12 core teams and four challenger teams, which will compete in a round robin format.
A total of 130 matches will be played over the course of the league season, with each team playing a minimum of 15 matches. Each core nation will host at least one pool.
In a first for the FIVB, the body, in collaboration with IMG, will take full control of content production. It will also implement a new ‘active engagement’ concept at venues that will seek to increase fan involvement.
FIVB president Ary S. Graça said: “This is a pivotal moment in the future of our sport. The Volleyball Nations League is the most important competition in the FIVB’s history and will revolutionise how volleyball is presented; making it more fan-centric and placing our fans, both inside and outside the stadium, at the very heart of the action.
“The FIVB has enjoyed great success over the last 70 years; volleyball has grown to become one of the most popular and widely practised sports in the world. But, we must always look forward and find ways to evolve and innovate as we aim to become the world’s number one family sport. The Volleyball Nations League will help us to achieve our vision and set the standard for athlete and viewer experience.”
The men’s event will feature Brazil, Italy, USA, China, Serbia, France, Argentina, Iran, Poland, Germany, Japan and Russia as the core teams, with Australia, South Korea, Canada and Bulgaria to serve as the designated challengers.
In the women’s draw, Brazil, Italy, USA, China, Serbia, Netherlands, Thailand, Turkey, South Korea, Germany, Japan and Russia make up the 12 core nations, with Argentina, Dominican Republic, Poland and Belgium having been assigned challenger status.
The FIVB said that the launch of a new men’s and women’s competition under the same name will promote equality in volleyball and make the sport more straightforward and engaging to follow.
A secondary Challenger League, incorporating promotion and relegation, will also be introduced as part of the new plans.
Ioris Francini, co-president of WME-IMG, added: “This is a very exciting development for the FIVB and we are delighted to play a pivotal role in the Volleyball Nations League. This unique initiative and format heralds a new era for the sport and will produce an even better experience for all concerned, from the teams and players to fans and viewers watching on various media platforms.
“Our role in producing live matches, along with distributing the media and digital rights, cements our long-standing relationship with the FIVB, which dates back to 2009. Volleyball has a very bright future.”