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First round:

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The history

The first men's World Championship, held on a re-purposed outdoor tennis court in Prague, Czechoslovakia in 1949, was for all practical purposes, a European Championship with all ten teams from within Europe. 

From these meager beginnings started one of the great competitions and traditions in international sport - the Men's Volleyball World Championship. 

It also started a great era of domination for the eventual winners, the USSR, which is still felt today.  The Soviets won six of the first twelve World titles, finishing in the first three places in all but one championship (1970) over the next forty-one years. They also won the three Olympic gold medals, in Tokyo 1964, Mexico 1968 and Moscow 1980. 

Czechoslovakia was the other great volleyball power in the early years. They hold the distinction, with the USSR/Russia, of being the only team to have competed in every men's World Championship, winning the World title in 1956 and 1966, and finishing second in 1949, 1952, 1960 and 1962. 

Germany (GDR - 1979), Poland (1974) and the USA (1986) took individual wins, but neither team maintained its World Championship dominance. 

The late eighties and nineties saw the fall of the Berlin Wall, the break-up of the Soviet Union, and the start of a new chapter in Volleyball's history - the Italian domination.  The 'Squadra Azzurra' owned the last decade, winning won all three World Championships (1990, 1994, 1998), as well as eight of the twelve World League titles. 

What will the new Century bring? Will Italy make it four-from-four titles? Will Brazil continue with the brilliant form that won it this year's World League? Will Yugoslavia relive its glory of the Sydney Olympic Games? Or will a new 'star' be born in Argentina? Go to Men's World Championship Honour list 1949 - 1998