Lausanne, Switzerland, April 22, 2016 – The FIVB celebrated its 69th anniversary this week, which offered an opportunity for the international federation to recognise and reflect on significant milestones and major achievements during its pursuit to make volleyball the number one family sport entertainment in the world.
Its journey started in Paris, France in April 1947, when representatives from 14 countries met at the first FIVB Congress where France’s Paul Libaud was elected as the federation’s first president. Since its establishment in 1947, the FIVB has gone from strength to strength to become one of the largest international sports organisations in the world with 221 national federations.
The first FIVB Congress in Paris in April 1947
The delegates from the first FIVB Congress
A global expansion of tournaments has helped strengthen the volleyball family and brought the national federations closer together and created a greater alignment with the FIVB’s vision. The first FIVB Volleyball World Championships were organised in 1949 for men and 1952 for women.
Poland take on the USSR in the inaugural final of the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship in 1952. The USSR went on to take the gold
The inaugural FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships took place in 1997 for both genders. Acknowledging its growing popularity, the IOC added volleyball to the Olympic programme for the first time at the Tokyo 1964 Olympic Games and beach volleyball made its first appearance at the Atlanta 1996 Olympic Games having been an exhibition sport four years earlier.
Along with the Olympic Games, the World Championships have remained the FIVB’s flagship events. The 2014 Volleyball Men’s and Women’s World Championships in Poland and Italy respectively were the most successful to date and the Beach Volleyball World Championships The Netherlands 2015 attracted a record attendance of 106,000 fans from around the world.
The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships are now held every two years and they are now one of the undoubted highlights of the sporting year, as well as a much-desired title for the players on the FIVB Beach Volleyball World Tour. Prior to the first tournament in its current format in 1997 there were 10 world championships held in Rio de Janeiro every year between 1987 and 1996 and now they are held every two years, outside of the Olympic Games.
The FIVB has always strived to achieve the highest standards of good governance and operate with complete transparency. In 1984, it relocated its headquarters from Paris to Lausanne, Switzerland, moving closer to the IOC and Olympic values. 1984 was also a significant milestone in the history of the federation’s leadership as President Paul Libaud resigned after 37 successful years and was succeeded by Dr Ruben Acosta at the World Congress in Long Beach, California, USA. Under his leadership, the FIVB continued to grow in size and in 1993 it became the largest sports organisation in the world with 210 affiliated member associations.
As the federation grew in size, it began to set the benchmark for innovative sporting entertainment. In 1998, the Rally Point System, the Libero player and the “let the ball play” were introduced. This helped transform the sport and made the game an appealing TV spectacle, attractive to fans and sponsors worldwide. In 2012, Dr. Ary S. Graça F° was elected the fourth president of the FIVB, succeeding Jizhong Wei, and set out his vision to create the world’s most engaging family sport entertainment.
President Graça has overseen technological advancements to the organisation of FIVB events, which have modernised volleyball and seen the FIVB embrace the latest cutting edge sports technology such as the Challenge System, which has become a regular feature at top level FIVB events.
The FIVB’s commitment to innovation and creating a dynamic family entertainment sport has helped cement volleyball as one of the most popular sports at the Olympics. It is more than just a sport event; it is an entertaining and engaging spectacle with global appeal. This will be realised this summer in Rio when volleyball returns to its spiritual home.