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29 August 2014
Lausanne, Switzerland, August 28, 2014 - From 30 August to 21 September, Poland will host the FIVB Men’s World Championship for the first time. The National Stadium in Warsaw will welcome 62,000 fans for the competition's opening match on Saturday.
Poland is known for its passion for volleyball, which is one of the most popular sports in the country and guarantees packed venues at the national team's matches. With Poland’s devoted volleyball fans and the best volleyball teams in the world competing, the FIVB Men’s World Championship has all the ingredients of a success. But Poland wants more than a national celebration of volleyball’s best athletes; Poland wants to use this opportunity to promote volleyball around the world.
For the first time in history, the opening match of the World Championship will be played at a football stadium. This was an idea originally considered for one of the FIVB Volleyball World League matches last year, but the Polish Volleyball Federation decided to reserve this historic moment for the World Championships. With 62,000 spectators expected to attend, the Polish Volleyball Federation is confident that this will be one of the most exciting events of the year.
The idea of hosting a volleyball match in a football stadium goes back to 1983, when Brazil played the Soviet Union in front of a record crowd of 95,000 at the legendary Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro. The match was held on July 26 – nine months after Brazil lost to the Soviet Union during the 1982 World Championship – and Brazil’s dramatic comeback was broadcast nationwide. Despite the rain, the spectators stayed in their seats at the Maracanã Stadium, which was also the stage for the 2014 FIFA World Cup final and will be used for the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.
In 1984 in São Paulo, the Brazilians hosted yet another huge volleyball event at the Morunbi Stadium, which was also broadcast on TV. This match was against Team USA, who had beaten the Brazilian team for the gold medal in the Los Angeles Olympic Games a few weeks earlier. Over 60,000 people attended the match in São Paulo and witnessed another comeback from Brazil, who won in straight sets.
The sport has attracted vast audiences from as early as 1949, when the World Championship took place in Prague - and three years later when 50,000 fans watched the final matches of the Championships in Moscow.
Volleyball has a tradition of putting on a fantastic show.
The opening ceremony and first match of the FIVB Men’s World Championship in Poland will be held on 30 August, when the host nation’s team will face Serbia - one of the strongest teams in the competition. This will be a fantastic opportunity for Team Serbia to inspire more recognition for volleyball in their country.
Serbia’s Head Coach Igor Kolakovic is delighted that his team has been chosen to play in the competition’s opening match. “I hope that this match will help promote volleyball in Serbia – and throughout the rest of the world. It will be a spectacle for the fans, and it is a pleasure for us that we have been chosen as Poland’s first opponents.”
Kolakovic has been working with the Serbian team for years, but has never had to prepare his young team to compete in front of over 60,000 fans supporting the host nation. Kolakovic remains confident, however, that his squad has what it takes to deliver. “Polish fans have always been very fair and polite when my team have played in Poland. They understand the game and respect the opponent. I think in a way there is more pressure on Poland. Their team has to consider the expectations of such a large number of fans in the stadium.”
Igor Kolakovic believes that Serbia, Poland, Brazil, Russia, Italy, Germany and Argentina are the favourites to win the competition. He himself hopes that Serbia will reach the semifinals – whatever the score at the end of the opening match. “Winning the first game can give the team a great push, but rising after a loss can make the players even stronger.”
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