The Federation Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB) is the worldwide governing body for volleyball … but what does that mean exactly? What does the FIVB do, and what difference does it make to those of us playing at a non-Olympic level?
First, a brief history: The FIVB was founded in 1947 when delegations from 14 countries came together in Paris, France to form an international governing body for the budding sport of volleyball. Paul Libaud of France was elected the first president, and he served until 1984 when he was succeeded by Dr. Rubén Acosta. Dr. Acosta served for 24 years before the election of Jizhong Wei in 2008.
1984 also marked a move for the FIVB headquarters from France to Lausanne, Switzerland so that it could be closer to the International Olympic Committee (IOC).
Along with shepherding indoor volleyball into the Olympics in 1964 and beach volleyball in 1996, the FIVB puts on the FIVB World Championships, FIVB World League (men only), FIVB World Grand Prix (women only), SWATCH FIVB World Tour, FIVB World Cup, FIVB Grand Champions Cup, FIVB Junior and Youth tournaments.
The results of these tournaments help determine world rankings and Olympic qualifications, but the system is somewhat convoluted. You can visit this page on the FIVB site for a breakdown, but I’m glad I’m not the one who has to keep track of all of it!
The FIVB is also responsible for rules changes that affect the world of volleyball; their changes eventually trickle down to all kinds of leagues. Back in 1998 they were the instigators of several massive changes designed to make the sport more telegenic, including the “let serve” rule (a serve can hit the net and still be in play), rally scoring (each rally results in a point instead of only the serving team being able to score), and the introduction of the libero (a specialized defensive player who wears a different jersey from his/her teammates).
It’s the FIVB who make rule changes that eventually change the way we all play, whether we’re aiming for the Olympics or trying out for our junior high team.
Curious about the current, official rules for volleyball? Check them out on the FIVB website.
And finally, the FIVB is the international ambassador for this sport that we love. They send players and coaches all over the world to help expand volleyball’s reach. The VCP (Volleyball Cooperation Program) aims to help volleyball federations around the world implement and improve volleyball in their country; that’s just one of the many grass roots programs that the FIVB runs.
So what that all boils down to is that there’s a big group of people hanging out on Lake Geneva in Switzerland trying to make volleyball better and more accessible for everybody in their 220 federation nations. It’s a tough job, but I’m glad somebody out there is doing it.
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