The VNL reimagined: more teams, more matches, more excitement and more benefits for everyone involved

The Volleyball Nations League (VNL) is set to be bigger and better than ever. Building on the monumental success of the VNL 2023, from 2025 onwards the world’s most prestigious annual volleyball competition will expand to 18 teams, alongside format changes that will elevate the VNL experience for athletes, fans, and all stakeholders.

With the first edition of the VNL staged in 2018, the current agreements with participating teams run until 2024, providing the perfect opportunity to re-evaluate and improve the VNL from 2025 onwards.

This opportunity was made unmissable by the success of last year’s edition, which saw record broadcast and Volleyball TV (VBTV) viewership, a surge in social engagement and sold-out venues throughout the event. Impressively,  the cumulative global audience grew by a remarkable 48% growth from 2022 to 2023. Moreover, the sponsorship value of the VNL increased by 27%, and TV viewership increased by 13% to 630 million. The VNL 2023 also captivated a vast audience with a social media reach of 214 million.

The enhancements to the VNL were proposed by the FIVB/Volleyball World team after feedback and insights from all key stakeholders. The aim is to ensure the VNL remains not only a world-class spectacle through continued improvements to the fan experience and live event, but most importantly, to allow the VNL to be brought to even more countries every year. This is to ensure that audiences worldwide can enjoy top-tier international volleyball action both on TV and in person.

The VNL will bring the best of volleyball every year to fans globally. An increased number of pools per week in the VNL means fans will have six more opportunities to witness the volleyball spectacle live. This is also a huge development for the players, who will have more opportunities to engage directly with fans from around the world and expand their reach and fan base year on year.

The reimagined VNL from 2025 onward

In a move that reflects the rising level of national teams worldwide, the VNL will expand to 18 teams from 2025 onwards, offering fans more opportunities to rally behind their heroes as they face off against the globe’s volleyball elite.

To facilitate this, there will be no relegation for the VNL 2024 participating teams, while the winner of the 2024 Volleyball Challenger Cup, plus the top ranked not-yet-qualified team as per the Senior Volleyball World Ranking, will join the participating teams of the VNL 2025. As of the 2025 edition, the Core team status shall be abolished with the last team in the competition’s final standing relegated, and the top team not yet qualified as per the Senior Volleyball World Ranking promoted into the following edition of the VNL.

The competition schedule will also be streamlined, reducing match days from six to five, with the host team dazzling fans across four action-packed days, while more matches will be available for fans to enjoy. This new format is more than just a logistical tweak – it is a game changer for host cities, promising heightened fan engagement, boosted attendance figures and greater commercial potential. The players will also benefit from an additional week of rest in the middle of tournament.

The revised structure involves dividing 18 teams into three groups of six for each of the three competition weeks, which means an extra pool per week per gender in comparison to the current model. In this new format of the women’s and men’s VNL, a total of 232 matches will take place during the tournament. Each team is set to play 12 matches, amounting to four matches per team per week. The adjustment in the competition schedule aims to incorporate additional recovery time and preparation in teams’ home countries.

The top eight teams at the end of the Preliminary Phase advance to the Final Phase (quarterfinals). The host team (will have a guaranteed berth in the Final Phase. The Final Phase will continue to be played in a Final 8 direct elimination formula, with a total of eight matches.

With 18 VNL legs and Finals for both genders held globally, this structure not only aims to enhance the overall appeal of the event’s media product, in response to growing interest and demand from audiences and fans, but also to extend the VNL footprint around the world, bringing its unique live experience to more fans from more markets. Meanwhile, the 2028 edition (only) will see a condensed format to align with the Olympic Games and will be defined at a later stage.

Through these comprehensive changes, the VNL will serve as the global commercial growth driver for the sport of volleyball, bringing world-class entertainment to all volleyball fans and enhanced value to all the FIVB/Volleyball World’s partners.  

VNL 2024

The VNL 2024 is set to build on the momentum of last year’s edition, welcoming the newly promoted teams of France (Women) and Türkiye (Men). This year’s competition grouping and team match ups have been carefully constructed to ensure technical balance across the board, while also facilitating the journey of teams yet to clinch an Olympic ticket to Paris 2024 which will be decided at the end of the Preliminary Phase of the VNL on 17 June for Women and on 24 June for Men.

With the VNL set to end just weeks before Paris 2024, the 2024 Competition Regulations have also been adjusted to mirror those of the Olympic Games and provide teams with ideal preparation conditions.

All hosts of the VNL 2024 Pools, Men’s Finals, and Women’s VNL Finals have now been announced. The VNL 2024 match schedule was also released earlier this month.  


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