FIVB celebrates 75th Anniversary

Global Volleyball Family to celebrate together at 38th FIVB World Congress in the Netherlands this September

The FIVB today marked its 75th anniversary by reflecting on its incredible journey so far and the even brighter future ahead for volleyball.

The FIVB’s history began on 20 April 1947, when representatives from 14 countries met in Paris to found the global governing body for the sport and elected France’s Paul Libaud as its first President. In its 75-year history, the FIVB has grown to 222 National Federations, while the sport has developed into one of the world’s biggest sports enjoyed by hundreds of millions across the globe.

Over the past seven and a half decades, the FIVB has experienced an array of key milestones, including the organisation of the first Volleyball World Championships in 1949 for men and 1952 for women, in addition to joining the programme of the Olympic Games at Tokyo 1964. Meanwhile, in beach volleyball, the first FIVB-sanctioned tournament took place in 1987, and just nine years later the sport made its Olympic debut at Atlanta 1996.

While volleyball may have grown significantly over the past 75 years, the FIVB has refocused its efforts over the past decade and, under the leadership of FIVB President Dr Ary S. Graça F°, accelerated the professionalisation and modernisation of the sport. These efforts have been focused on the two key pillars of the FIVB President’s 2012 electoral campaign, innovation and opportunity, while ensuring the principles of good governance with the organisation’s objectives formulated in its 11 Goals strategy and Nucleus Plan.

Innovation

Some of the key innovations in the sport over the last ten years include the introduction of a new standard of sports presentation at the 2014 FIVB Volleyball World Championships in Poland where over 62,000 fans attended the opening match. Since then, the FIVB has worked meticulously to enhance its sport presentation, with the introduction of DJs, announcers, video and light displays, sound systems and so forth to engage and entertain fans.

These efforts saw volleyball named the most watched sport in terms of viewer hours at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 (IOC Data Report). And it was also at Rio 2016 that the Challenge System was introduced for the first time at the Olympic Games to promote fair play and accuracy by allowing players, coaches and referees to challenge decisions for an instant-review.

These innovations also go beyond changes to enhance existing events to creating new, cutting-edge events all together. In 2018, the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) was launched to transform volleyball competitions. The annual event, now in its fourth year, has become a fan-favourite and true example of volleyball being at the forefront of innovation and digital broadcasting.

Some VNL highlights to date include the VNL Men’s Finals 2018 in Lille, France staged at the state-of-the-art Pierre Mauroy football stadium, as well as the VNL 2021 which was held in a secure bubble in Rimini, Italy.  This VNL bubble saw more than 1,000 participants, with 572 volleyball players competing across a total of 248 matches throughout the month-long competition. A total of 2,250 PCR tests and 7,920 antigen tests were conducted over the course of the tournament with just one positive case registered. The bubble also hosted a TV production team of more than 100 people.

And perhaps one of the most significant milestones of the FIVB’s 75-year history was last year’s partnership with CVC Capital Partners and the launch of Volleyball World – the commercial entity for the sport around the world.

The launch of Volleyball World also saw the creation of another fresh new event, only this time on the sand – the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour. The new tour – split into Elite 16, Challenger and Future events – successfully got underway last month in both Tlaxcala and Rosarito, Mexico.

The FIVB has also embraced digital transformation to ensure that engaging and high-quality content is available to fans around the world. The sport’s digital presence grew at a tremendous rate over the past few years. For example, Volleyball World’s digital channels – Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok and Twitter – now boast over 13.4 million followers, representing an increase of 3.4 million since March of 2020. And last October, Volleyball World celebrated reaching over one million followers on TikTok. In addition, fans can access exciting content at Volleyball TV, giving them the chance to enjoy some of the greatest moments of the game and their favourites stars and teams in action.

Opportunity

In parallel to innovations on the court and new events, the FIVB has focused on greater opportunity for all through development support to National Federations. The support has been concentrated in three key areas – coach support, volleyball equipment and knowledge transfer – to help equip National Federations with the tools to ensure volleyball flourishes in their countries from the grassroots through to the elite level. 

And in 2021, FIVB President Dr Ary S. Graça F° also revealed the Volleyball Empowerment programme, a year-around revolutionary programme aimed at supporting national teams, athletes and National Federations to achieve their goals and reach their full potential.

The FIVB continued to support National Federations and athletes during the COVID-19 pandemic. Overall, since 2017, the FIVB has approved 521 projects from 222 National Federations from all five Continental Confederations, which totals an investment of over 11 million CHF. Of these 521 projects , 208 were coach support projects in 112 Countries, 277 were volleyball equipment projects for 125 countries and 36 were knowledge transfer programmes for 28 countries. Additionally, 80 players from a wide range of countries in Europe, Asia, Oceania and the Americas received financial support for basic needs via the FIVB Athletes’ Relief Support fund.

The FIVB also embraced the opportunity to improve its annual event calendar, reducing the number of events and increasing their quality and consistency – the famous “less is more” approach. The official volleyball events for the current Olympic cycle include the Olympic Games Paris 2024, the 2022 World Championships, the annual Volleyball Nations League, the Continental Championships of 2021 and 2023, and their direct qualifying events. The calendar also includes the annual club season including national, continental and international competitions.

Good Governance

Under the leadership of President Dr Ary S Graça F°, the FIVB constantly works on implementing the principles of transparency, credibility and good governance in all its activities. 

The FIVB created its first ever Athletes’ Commission during the Olympic Games 2016, and since then the Commission has been working closely with the FIVB to ensure the voice of the athletes is represented in the decision-making process. Last year, the Commission held its first-ever elections, and following the decision of the FIVB World Congress 2021, the President of the Athletes’ Commission is now representing the players as a member of the FIVB Board of Administration for the first time in history.

Additionally, the FIVB is continually improving its regulatory framework and has created the fully independent Ethics Panel while also investing in educational programmes on anti-doping and the prevention of competition manipulation. Moreover, a thorough bidding process is now implemented to select hosts for all FIVB events with bidding documents available to all 222 National Federations.

The FIVB is also a reliable member of the Olympic Movement and enjoys good relations with the IOC and its President Thomas Bach, as well as with other International Federations and sports governing bodies.

The global Volleyball Family will have an opportunity to celebrate this important milestone together at the 38th FIVB World Congress which will take place from 22 to 25 September 2022 in Arnhem, Netherlands during the first round of the prestigious FIVB Volleyball Women’s World Championship.