Madrid, Spain, July 7, 2003 - The world's elite men's Volleyball teams settled into the Spanish capital on Monday, on the eve of the FIVB's $15 million World League Finals for 2003, which will register a first for the sport by being held in a converted bull ring.
"This is a very special place for the people of Madrid," said Spanish coach Francisco Hervas, indicating that the experience gave him goose bumps. "My father used to bring me here as a child to see the bullfights."
Hervas brings host Spain, automatic qualifiers to the Finals to meet the giants of men's Volleyball, Russia, Brazil, Italy, Serbia and Montenegro, Bulgaria, the Czech Republic and Greece in what is the highlight of the annual competition.
The eight sides have been split into two pools with Spain in Pool E with Serbia and Montenegro, the Czech Republic and Greece. In Pool F, defending champions Russia are joined by Brazil, Italy and Bulgaria.
Pool E starts the Finals action on Tuesday at 8:30 GMT with Serbia and Montenegro playing the Czech Republic, followed by Brazil against Bulgaria in Pool F starting at 11:00 GMT.
The big match on Tuesday sees Russia take on Italy at 15:30 GMT in Pool F before the final match of the day when Spain plays Greece in Pool E at 18:00 GMT.
Eight more matches will be played across Wednesday and Thursday from where the top two teams from each group head to the semifinals on Saturday before the World League Final on Sunday afternoon.
Catch all the World League Finals action LIVE along with player profiles, match reports and all the latest information at www.fivb.org