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European Championship draw throws up exciting group tests

The draw for the Final Round of the 2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men was held on Monday at the Ivan Vazov National Theatre in Sofia
Sofia, Bulgaria, February 16, 2015 - The draw for the Final Round of the 2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men has set the tone for what promises to be an exciting event, with 2013 gold medallists Russia and bronze medal winners Serbia to meet in Pool D. Sixteen teams will play for honours in a competition hosted by Bulgaria and Italy from October 9-18.

The draw, which took place at the Ivan Vazov National Theatre in Sofia on Monday, also sees Bulgaria and Italy take on the third and fourth placed teams from the FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship Poland 2014, respectively Germany and France. In Pool C, reigning world champions Poland will be up against Belgium, one of Europe’s rising powers.

The composition of the four preliminary pools reads as follows:

Pool A in Sofia: Bulgaria, Germany, Czech Republic, Spain/Netherlands
Pool B in Turin: Italy, France, Croatia, Sweden/Estonia
Pool C in Varna: Poland, Belgium, Belarus, Slovenia/Portugal
Pool D in Busto Arsizio: Russia, Serbia, Slovakia, Finland

The complete match programme for the pool phase will be released later this week, once it has been confirmed by all parties.

The Final Round of the CEV Volleyball European Championship - Men is returning to Bulgaria for the first time since 1981. The last continental tournament of this calibre in the Balkan country took place in 2001, when Bulgaria hosted the women’s finals. The competition also returns to Italy. The 2005 edition of the event saw the finals played in Rome after the early stages of the competition were co-hosted by Italy and Serbia and Montenegro.

This year's edition will get underway on October 9. Pool matches will take place in a single round robin format. The teams which top each pool will advance directly to the quarterfinal matches; the teams placed second and third in each pool will be moved to the playoff matches - those placed fourth will be eliminated from the competition. Three teams will complete the line-up for the Final Round when third round home and away matches are played in late May. Slovenia will take on Portugal, Sweden will attempt a comeback to the European stage in a double match-up with Estonia, and 2007 gold medallists Spain will take on the Netherlands.

The Drawing of Lots ceremony was attended by a number of illustrious guests, with CEV President André Meyer, CEV Senior Vice President Aleksandar Boricic, and CEV Vice President Renato Arena enjoying the company of the chairmen of the Bulgarian and Italian Volleyball Federations, Dancho Lazarov and Carlo Magri. The Bulgarian government was represented by Mr Krasen Kralev, the country’s Minister of Youth and Sports. The Mayors of Sofia and Varna, the Bulgarian cities set to host the competition, Mrs Yordanka Fandakova and Mr Ivan Portnih, were also in attendance as the 2015 CEV Volleyball European Championship – Men continues a tradition of high-level volleyball competitions hosted in their respective home towns, with Mrs Fandakova recalling that Sofia has been awarded the title of European Capital of Sport in 2018.

Current members of the Bulgarian national team and volleyball legend Dimo Tonev, who participated in the draw on stage, were also in attendance. They were joined by other Bulgarian sports personalities, including open water swimmer Petar Stoychev and word-class rowing coach Svilen Neykov, who are both former Ministers of Physical Education and Sport.

The Drawing of Lots ceremony was also an opportunity for the organisers to launch the official theme song of the Championship - Heroes - which was performed on stage by Nickname.

Speaking at the ceremony,
CEV President André Meyer said: “As we know the passion that Bulgaria and Italy share for our sport, I am confident that our Championship is in good hands. I expect a terrific volleyball show to unfold in all four venues that will host the tournament so that we can add another milestone in our efforts to raise the popularity and exposure of our sport to unprecedented heights.”


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