After 76 years of growing the sport worldwide, an even brighter future lies ahead for volleyball

As the FIVB celebrates its 76th anniversary today, takes a moment to reflect on the incredible journey of the global governing body of volleyball since its establishment in 1947.

Volleyball has come a long way from its humble beginnings to becoming one of the world’s most popular sports. The FIVB was founded by representatives from 14 countries with the aim of promoting and developing volleyball across the globe. In the decades that followed, the FIVB has accomplished that goal and more. The first World Championships were organised in 1949 for men and 1952 for women, and volleyball was added to the Olympic Games programme not long after at Tokyo 1964.

Beach volleyball made its Olympic debut 32 years later at the Atlanta Games in 1996 and has remained a fan favourite at every edition since. Today, the FIVB has 222 National Federations and volleyball is played and enjoyed by hundreds of millions of people around the world. It is consistently among the most-watched sports at the Olympic Games.

Under the leadership of FIVB President Dr Ary S. Graça F°, who took the helm in 2012, the FIVB has become a truly dynamic and modern organisation fit for the future. Innovation and opportunity have stood as key pillars of the FIVB President’s mandate in a time where the sport continues to go from strength to strength. 

A new standard of sports presentation was introduced at the FIVB Volleyball World Championship 2014 to a crowd of 62,000 people at the opening match. It has since become a hallmark of volleyball and beach volleyball events, with DJs, announcers, lighting, giant video screens and sound systems having transformed the live sport viewing experience.

So much so, that the FIVB captured the attention of countless fans at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 as the only International Federation to invest its own money into presentation elements for its sports. The investment paid off with 99.9 per cent of available tickets for volleyball and beach volleyball sold, and both sports combining to be the most watched sports in terms of viewer hours (IOC Data Report). The Challenge System was also introduced at Rio 2016, to ensure fair competition while providing an even more engaging experience for fans.

In 2018, innovation came in the form of the young, dynamic discipline of snow volleyball. Having begun with localised events first organised in Europe, it has since grown into a global sport, with the support of the FIVB and European Volleyball Confederation (CEV). The FIVB and CEV hosted a Snow Volleyball Night during the Olympic Winter Games PyeongChang 2018 at the Austria House, before launching the inaugural FIVB Snow Volleyball World Tour in 2019.

Meanwhile, opportunity has come in the form of consistent development support for the global Volleyball Family, with the aim of improving the depth and level of the game by empowering national teams. Since 2012, under FIVB President Dr Ary S. Graça F° leadership, almost 50 million USD has been invested in development support via Continental Confederations, National Federations, Zonal Associations and Development Centres. This represents a 314 per cent increase in support for the benefit of the sport. 

Milestones in development have come regularly over the past decade, but there are other notable and groundbreaking innovations that have opened possibilities and taken the sport to even greater heights.

The first is the FIVB’s partnership with CVC Capital Partners and the creation of Volleyball World, a commercial arm aimed at driving growth, innovation and investment in volleyball around the globe.

Launched in 2021, Volleyball World has stepped in to drive a consumer centric platform. It has allowed the FIVB to accelerate its sport development efforts by reinvesting the money from its partnership with CVC and the growth in commercial revenues through Volleyball World into world-class development programmes like Volleyball Empowerment, the second most recent landmark for the sport.

Aimed at empowering national teams worldwide with the resources, expertise and support to reach their full potential, Volleyball Empowerment is the natural evolution of the FIVB’s world-leading development programmes.

As of March 2023, the FIVB has approved 695 projects from all 222 National Federations across all five Continental Confederations since 2017, totalling an investment of over 18 million CHF. This includes, 343 volleyball equipment projects, 285 coach support projects and 67 knowledge transfer projects.

The impact of the programme is being felt across the world, with an array of case studies demonstrating how Volleyball Empowerment has allowed countries to establish sustainable high-performance programmes and talent development pathways. Ultimately, this has led to success at national, continental and international events.

[Embed Volleyball World YouTube video on Beach World Championships:]

Looking to the future, there is plenty to be excited about, with every year bigger and better than the last. In 2023, the Volleyball World Beach Pro Tour has returned for its second season, with the world’s stars on the sand back in action at iconic locations around the world. The FIVB Beach Volleyball World Championships are also set for Mexico from 6-15 October, returning to Latin America for the first time in 20 years.

The Volleyball Nations League (VNL) is also scheduled to get underway at the end of May. Staged over six action-packed weeks, 16 of the best men’s and 16 of the top women’s volleyball teams will compete in venues around the globe for volleyball’s greatest annual trophy.

And with the countdown to Paris past the 500 days to go mark, qualification is set to heat up with the Road to Paris Volleyball Qualifier events locked in for 16-24 September for women’s teams and 30 September – 8 October for men’s teams.

On the FIVB’s 76th anniversary, it is clear the future of volleyball and beach volleyball remains brighter than ever. With the FIVB’s commitment to innovation, opportunity and development, pioneered by FIVB President Dr Ary S. Graça F°, the potential for the global Volleyball Family is limitless.


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