The 2006 World League will be played on four continents, with the alphabetical list of venues ranging from Belo Horizonte in Brazil to Yekaterinburg in Russia. The sixteen teams involved will battle it out in 96 matches over 6 weekends, with the first Intercontinental Round starting on 14 July 2006.
In addition to strong favourites Brazil (winner of the past three editions), Serbia and Montenegro and Cuba, who took the top three places in last year’s final in Belgrade, the World League 2006 welcomes Egypt as the first-ever participant from Africa and celebrates the return of the two “superpower” teams from the USA and Russia.
Poland completes the group of last year’s Final Four, whilst Italy, which holds the record for the most World League victories (8), will be hoping to make up for last year’s failure to qualify for the Final Round for the first time ever in the side’s history, having been the only team other than Brazil to participate in all 16 editions of the competition. Europe’s contingent is completed by Bulgaria, France, Portugal and Finland, which will be making only its second appearance in the World League.
As the only other team from South America, Argentina will be looking to improve on last year’s performance, when the team finished bottom of their pool. Representing Asia are Japan, China and Korea, which returns to the competition after a seven-year absence.
There will be some tough competition for a place in the Final Round, when the winners of the four pools, the host country and a wild card team will converge on Moscow from 23-27 August to battle it out for a share of the USD 20 million prize fund.
FIVB announces 2006 World Grand Prix competition schedule
Lausanne, 26 April 2006 - Every year, the FIVB World Grand Prix brings emotion and suspense, coupled with the unique beauty of women’s Volleyball. As one of the FIVB’s most prestigious international women’s competitions, the World Grand Prix brings together twelve of the best teams in the world to battle it out for a share of the million-dollar prize fund. The competition has a genuine international dimension with tournaments taking place in Europe and Asia over four weeks.
This year’s FIVB World Grand Prix tour pays three visits to China (Hong Kong, Macau and Ningbo) and Japan (Tokyo and Okayama) and includes stops in Bangkok, Seoul, Chinese Taipei and Bydgoszcz (Poland) before the top five ranked teams and Italy (as host country of the final round) converge on the familiar surroundings of Reggio Calabria for the finals in September.
The 2006 FIVB World Grand Prix gets underway from 16-20 August with matches in Hong Kong, Poland and Tokyo. Joining favourites and defending champions Brazil from South America will be Cuba, Dominican Republic and the USA, all having qualified through the 2005 Pan American Cup. After their second place at the 2005 Grand Champions Cup, the USA are sure to be hot on Brazil’s heels once again.
The European contingent headed up by Italy, who placed second in the last two editions of the FIVB World Grand Prix, comprises newcomer Azerbaijan, Poland (which is hosting one of the preliminary rounds for the first time) and Russia, who return after their first-ever absence from the tournament in 2005.
The 12 participating teams are completed by the Asian quartet of China, Japan, Korea and Thailand, each of which will host one of the pools during the preliminary rounds. Both China and Japan have participated in every edition of the FIVB World Grand Prix, with China amassing seven podium places. Korea has only missed one edition (2002), whilst Thailand will be participating for the fifth consecutive time.
The 2006 FIVB World Grand Prix Finals will be held from 6-10 September in Reggio Calabria, Italy, where the top five teams from the preliminary rounds will join Italy as host for five days of competition to decide the World Grand Prix champion 2006.