The FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship Poland 2014 begins on August 30 with a dream opening match between the hosts and Serbia, who will play to a record 62,000 spectators at the National Stadium in Warsaw.
“The last time the FIVB held a World Championship match outdoors was during the second staging of the Men’s World Championship in 1952 in the USSR, so it goes to show how unique this event is”, said FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F°.
Tickets for the opening match sold out in just 100 minutes – a first indication of the level of anticipation and enthusiasm ahead of the 18th edition of the quadrennial event, which is the first FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship to be staged in Poland. It marks the start of a tournament which will take place over a period of 23 days, culminating in the grand finale in Katowice on September 21.
“You will witness a level of entertainment and engagement never seen before. We would like to take volleyball into a new era, building up towards the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, and the World Championship this year will be our launch pad”, said Dr. Graça. “A successful tournament is one where we have record-breaking attendance levels, outstanding volleyball that entertains everyone, and a wonderful lifetime experience, which will live long in the memory of all those involved. It’s going to be exciting and ground-breaking in so many ways.”
The rapid growth in the number of countries involved in the tournament’s qualifying process is emphatic proof of just how tough the competition is around the world.
While 113 teams competed for a ticket to the 2010 World Championship, this number had risen to 148 for the 2014 edition with national teams ranging from Guadeloupe and the Ivory Coast to Yemen.
A total of 103 matches in a new competition format await the 24 finalists in Poland. The 24 teams will be spread across four pools of six teams playing in a round-robin system with the top four teams advancing to a second round of preliminary matches featuring two pools of eight teams. The top three countries from each pool will then advance to the third round phase, followed by the semifinals and finals. The six host cities are Wrocław, Katowice, Gda´ nsk, Kraków, Łód´ zand Bydgoszcz, all with state-of-the-art arenas.
The pools for the first round of the tournament were determined at the Drawing of Lots ceremony, which took 6th place at Warsaw’s Palace of Arts and Culture on January 27, 2014. The Championship trophy was also unveiled to the public for the first time at this event.
Poland is the 11th country to host the FIVB Men’s World Championship, after Czechoslovakia (1949, 1966), the Soviet Union (1952, 1962), France (1956, 1986), Brazil (1960, 1990), Argentina (1982, 2002), Italy (1978, 2010), Japan (1998, 2006), Bulgaria (1970), Mexico (1974) and Greece (1994).
With six titles to its name, Russia’s predecessor, the Soviet Union, is the most successful nation since the first World Championship took place in 1949. However, it is now 32 years since their last gold medal, which they won in 1982 in Buenos Aires.
Taking the gold medal on three occasions each are Brazil (2002, 2006, 2010) and Italy (1990, 1994, 1998), while Czechoslovakia triumphed on two occasions (1956, 1966), and East Germany (1970), USA (1986) and Poland (1974) each have one title to their name. It goes without saying that the many volleyball fans in the host nation are hoping for Poland to repeat their World Championship triumph in Mexico City in 1974.
Volleyball is a popular sport in the host country. Top clubs featuring a host of international stars regularly play in the European Champions League and halls are packed for national league matches that are often televised. Poland are now looking to set a new standard for the FIVB World Championship for fans in the halls and for TV viewers around the world, with matches set to be broadcast in over 100 countries.
With the host country known for organising top level volleyball competitions and local fans known for their enthusiastic, friendly and colourful contribution to the sport, this year’s World Championship is set to make a lasting impression.