The first FIVB final was held in Hong Kong in 1993 when the preliminary rounds were conducted in six other Asian Pacific areas (Japan, Thailand, Australia, Korea, Malaysia and Taiwan). Eight teams representing Cuba, Russia, China, Brail, Korea, Japan, the United States and German took part. In the final competition, the Cuba team, also Olympics Gold medal winner at Barcelona beat China by 3-1 and pocketed the sizeable US400,000 prize money.
Two years later, in 1995, FIVB has since adopted the round-robin system to divide the eight teams into two groups to compete for the qualifying round. The best two teams from each group will cross compete in the semi-finals and the winning sides will enter the finals to dispute for the title. The preliminary round of matches in 1995 has for the first time, gone out of the Asia Pacific, and was staged in Honolulu of Hawaii in the US, and in Brazil. The result was beyond expectation, with the US team beating the past title winner Brazil and winning the final.
In 1998, the competition format was changed again. The competition for the 2nd runner up title was added. The FIVB in 1998 went to cover more countries and areas. India staged its first preliminary round match while the Chingmai station has attracted thousands of spectators to heat up the sky of the stadium, adding fuel to the promotion and development of volleyball in Thailand. The finals were staged in Hong Kong Special Administrative Region since its handover to China. More than 10,000 spectators witnessed the final match of FIVB in 1998 where Brazil beat Russia team and won the title for the third consecutive times in a row. In the same year, Cuba succeeded to triumph over China in a very tough battle for the bronze medal., despite the encouragement of the many Hong-Kong residents cheering for China.
In 1999, the final of FIVB was for the first time held in Yuxi of Yunnan Province of China, Russia team led by notable coach Nikolai Karpol chose the tactics of high-hit, high-blocking and beat the previous Latin American winner Brazil with a 3-0 set in just one hour. Russia tasted its second winning title after its first success in 1997. Around 4,200 spectators took part in the finals. China team won Italy by a 3-1 set by losing the first game and obtained a bronze medal.
In 2000, Manila in the Philippines hosted the final round of FIVB at its Philsports Arena which housed 10,750 spectators for the finals. The eight consecutive winners of the three world-class volleyball classics – Cuba team, fledged its muscles and snatched the winner again in that year’s FIVB. The Cuba team, again as in the Olympics in Sydney, competed with Russia and won the crown. The Cuba team was accredited the Best of volleyball team of the Century, in a series of Best of the Century Awards, one of which awarded the veteran player of Chine, Li Yan, the best setter.
In 2001, Macao Special Administrative Region played host to the final round of FIVB, for the first time. Eight of the world strongest volleyball teams gathered in Macao competing for the winning titles in the final week of FIVB held from 22 to 26 August 2001. The eight teams were: United States, China, Russia, Cuba, Brazil, Japan, Korea and Germany. The US team won the title in the end.
In 2009, FIVB was held from 31 July to 23 August. Twelve teams entered the four-week long competition with the first three weeks as the preliminary rounds, and each round with four teams competing according to the round-robin system. Every week, matches were held in three different cities. The final week of the competition (including semi-finals) was held in Tokyo, Japan. The positions of rankings were decided according to the 9 different matches held in three different stations for each team. The host country, Japan together with the five teams scoring the highest points competed for the finals.
Format of competition – FIVB
The number of participating teams varied in the preliminaries over the past years. The number of teams qualified for the finals and the format of competition for the finals were not consistent throughout the past years. (The number of finalists ranged from the initial four finalists to six in the year 2003. Note: In 2001, all eight participating teams automatically entered into the finals). The host country will enter the final round of matches and will not be affected by the points scored during the preliminaries.
Since 2000, the number of participating teams in the preliminaries has been set at 12 teams, composed by the best level teams in East Asia, Europe and the Americas. The FIVB lasts for four weeks, with the first three weeks being the preliminary rounds, and in each station, there will be four teams competing according to the round-robin system. Every week, there were matches in three stations. In other words, each participating team would go through nine different matches in three different cities. The top five teams scoring the highest points (excluding the team from the host country of that year) would enter the finals together with the host country’s team.
For instance, in 2005, the six finalists competed under the round-robin system. (In 2004, the six finalists were divided into 2 groups of 3 teams, the 3 teams would fight for the two places in the semi-finals, however, in 2005, the six finalists competed under the round-robin system for the winning title. In 2002, the four finalists challenged each other through a single round-robin system, with the top two eyeing for the title winner, while the other two fighting for the 2nd runner up title.)
FIVB – The special 2003 format of competition and China won its first FIVB title
As a tradition, the FIVB preliminary rounds were held in the Asia Pacific areas and the finals needed to be conducted in the East Asian countries. However in the year 2003, due to the outbreak of the SARS epidemics, the International Volleyball Association decided to stage the entire FIVB competition (the one-week qualifying heats and the week-long finals) in Italy. The twelve participating teams were divided into 2 groups; the teams of each group would compete under a single round-robin system. The top three teams in each group, being the finalists, would again compete in a single round-robin system in the two rounds of finals, to decide on the winner, the 1st & the 2nd runner-ups. China team, had in 2003, snatched its first FIVB winning title.
Eligibility for FIVB
The twelve teams are divided by the 3 continents – Asia, Europe and Americas, entering the best 4 of each continent. For instance, in 2005, the top four world-ranking teams in Asia (China, Japan, Korea and Thailand) were eligible. For Europe, the eligibility depends on the pre-qualifying heats (German, Italy, the Netherlands and Poland). In the Americas, the top four teams in the Pan American Games will be eligible. (Cuba, the US, the Dominican Republic and Brazil).