For the first time ever, Italy and Bulgaria will have the honour of jointly hosting the FIVB’s premier volleyball event – the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship, which will take place from September 9 to 30, 2018 with matches being held in Italian cities Florence, Milan, Rome, Bari, and Bologna, and Bulgarian cities Ruse, Sofia and Varna, while the finals will be held in Turin, Italy. 

The 2018 FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship will be the 19th edition of the International Volleyball Federation’s signature event for men’s national teams. It will come after the record-breaking FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship Poland 2014, which saw over half a million fans attend the 103 matches in the competition.

Both Italy and Bulgaria have already played hosts to the Men’s World Championships. Italy last organised the Men’s World Championship in 2010, when Brazil claimed the title in Rome. Italy also hosted the men’s event in 1978 and organised the highly successful Women’s World Championship in 2014. Bulgaria, on the other hand, hosted both the Men’s and Women’s World Championships in 1970. The East Germans won the men’s competition in Sofia, while the USSR were victorious in the women’s competition in Varna.

The world’s best 24 teams will be in Italy and Bulgaria following a qualifying process, which started in 2016, involved a record number of more than 130 countries and concluded in 2017.

With six titles to its name, Russia’s predecessor, the Soviet Union, is the most successful nation since the first World Championship took place in 1949. However, it will be 36 years since their last gold medal, which they won in 1982 in Buenos Aires.

Taking the gold medal on three occasions each are Brazil (2002, 2006, 2010) and Italy (1990, 1994, 1998), while Czechoslovakia triumphed on two occasions (1956, 1966), as well as Poland (1974, 2014), East Germany (1970) and USA (1986) each have one title to their name. It goes without saying that the many volleyball fans in the host nation are hoping for Italy to repeat their World Championship triumph in Tokyo in 1998 or maybe for Bulgaria to win their first title.

In the last edition, Poland emerged as the champions on home soil in 2014, when the FIVB’s premier volleyball event was held in cities Katowice, Lodz, Wroclaw, Gdansk, Bydgoszcz, Krakow and Warsaw. The world celebrated with Poland with the achievement of a world record 62,000 people attending the opening ceremony and opening match at the National Stadium in Warsaw.

The FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship Poland 2014 held a few records. Tickets for the opening match sold out in just 100 minutes – an indication of the level of anticipation and enthusiasm ahead of the 18th edition of the quadrennial event, which was the first Men’s World Championship to be staged in Poland.

More than half a million fans – 563, 263 – watched the matches during the 18-day event, smashing the previous records in the competition. In Italy, four years ago, the total was 339,324, while in Japan 2006 was 298,352.

The rapid growth in the number of countries involved in the tournament’s qualifying process is emphatic proof of just how tough the competition is around the world.

While 113 teams competed for a ticket to the 2010 World Championship, this number had risen to 148 for the 2014 edition with national teams ranging from Guadeloupe and the Ivory Coast to Yemen.