VIENNA, Austria, 12 October 2003 - Lots have been drawn for this important club competition for the best 20 men's teams and the best 15 women's teams at a special ceremony at a European volleyball Confederation (CEV) Volleyball Gala in City Hall in the Austrian capital.
"We are proud that the CEV is back in Vienna,' Vienna's Deputy Mayor Grete Laska said, welcoming officials from the continental confederation.
CEV President Andre Meyer expressed his pleasure to be back in the Austrian capital and CEV Vice President and European Cups Commission President Riet Ooms announced that Austrian Airlines was a new partner for the League.
The men's competition will be five pools of four with title holders Lokomotiv BELGOROD from Russia, playing in Pool C together with Lube MACERATA (ITA), Iraklis THESSALONIKI (GRE) and Dukla LIBEREC (CZE).
Pool A is a strong group. Top seed Sisley TREVISO from Italy will face SCC BERLIN (GER), Olympiakos PIRAEUS (GRE) and Pamapol AZS CZESTOCHOWA (POL). 'It will be very tough for us,' Sisley TREVISO's manager Bruno da Re analyzed. 'All our opponents are very strong.'
In Pool B, 2000/2001 Champion PARIS Volley from France will meet Unicaja ALMERIA (ESP), Crvena Zvezda BEOGRAD (SCG) and Knack ROESELARE (BEL). Pool D will be a completely open group, with the strong Russian team Iskra ODINTSOVO, TOURS VB (FRA), outsider VfB FRIEDRICHSHAFEN (GER) and newcomer ESS Falck PARNU (EST).
Pool E is also open. Mostostal-Azoty KEDZIERZYN from Poland is the top seed. Noliko MAASEIK (BEL), Levski Siconco SOFIA (BUL) and Aon hotVolleys VIENNA (AUT) complete this group.
In the Women's League the 15 teams play in five pools of three teams in a modified format with three rounds set for January 2004 with one team in each pool playing at home against both opponents.
Defending champion RC CANNES from France plays in Pool E with Stal BIELSKO-BIALA (POL) and Jedinstvo UZICE (SCG). Pool A is one of the major groups with the top Italian team Asystel Volley NOVARA, Crvena Zvezda BEOGRAD (SCG) and Indesit European Champions' League rookie Zeiler KONIZ (SUI).
Hotel Cantur LAS PALMAS (ESP), Nova KBM Branik MARIBOR (SLO) and Azerrail BAKU (AZE) are in Pool B and in Pool C, Russian Champion Uralochka EKATERINBURG, TENERIFE Marichal (ESP) and NRK NYIREGYHAZA (HUN).
Pool D has Italy's Pallavolo Sirio PERUGIA, Eczacibasi ISTANBUL (TUR) and Mladost ZAGREB (CRO).
The best six teams in each gender will play play-off matches to qualify for the final four, which will be contested for women in Tenerife, Spain March 20-21, 2004. The men's final will be in Belgorod, Russia, March 27-28. Hosts of Final Fours are automatically qualified.
More on the net, including the match schedule, at www.cev.lu