Lausanne, Switzerland, Sept 28, 2003 - The International Volleyball Federation's $15 Million World League, the premier annual men's Volleyball competition has been restructured with a new format of twelve teams to contest Intercontinental Rounds and to create an independent Continental Round with European teams, which would be played at the same time. The new format was decided at the FIVB's World League Council, meeting at the Swiss headquarters of the sport's governing body on Sunday.
"These are essential reforms designed to further sharpen the competition, television, promotion and attendance," said FIVB President Dr. Rubén Acosta. "We must maintain a formula that reflects the meaning of the word "World" and we must ensure that every aspect of the World League is absolutely professional in its management and presentation to the public."
The World League Council agreed on a formula for 2004 of: Asia - two teams, South America - one team, Norceca (North and Central America) one team and Europe - eight teams, however as from 2005 there must be a mandatory two teams from South America and two from Norceca, the FIVB President said.
Because of the strength of European teams, it has been decided to hold - simultaneously to the Intercontinental Rounds - a special Continental Round in Europe where four teams would contest the right for the best two performances as per organization, entertainment and professional standards as well as ranking, to advance into the Intercontinental Round in the following year. The two weakest European teams in the Intercontinental Round - and under the same standards - would be relegated to the lower group.
"The World League is our blue ribbon annual event. It has come to be recognized both by national teams and the millions who follow it as one of THE indicators of excellence in Volleyball," said the FIVB President. "We therefore must be vigilant in ensuring that we maintain the highest standards."
The twelve teams competing in the 2004 Intercontinental Round are: Brazil, Bulgaria, Cuba, Italy, Serbia and Montenegro, Poland, France, Japan, China, Portugal and Greece. One final berth is still to be decided.