By Nick Butler

Germany, pictured celebrating their 2014 FIVB World Championship bronze medal, have withdrawn from the FIVB World League in order to focus on Baku 2015 ©AFP/Getty ImagesGermany has withdrawn its men's team from next year's International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) World League.

The withdrawal, which took place so the team could focus on competing at the inaugural European Games in Baku, could be interpreted as a blow to the FIVB's annual showpiece event.

But, with qualification for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games having been toughened up for European nations, more qualification points will be available in Baku then through the World League, the key reason behind the German decision.

"The main focus is the qualification for the Olympic Games and for this the European ranking points are more important than the world ranking," German Volleyball Federation press officer Thilo von Hagen told insidethegames. 

"Furthermore it is very difficult to find a television partner which fulfill the requirements for World League, because our partner from the last years - SPORT1 - will broadcast almost five hours by day from Baku."

Von Hagen added that the German women's team will play at both Baku 2015 and the Grand Prix, before adding the FIVB "accepted the decision" and a fresh decision will be taken next year on whether they choose to participate on the World League.

United States will be seeking a repeat of their 2014 triumph at the 2015 FIVB World League ©Getty ImagesUnited States will be seeking a repeat of their 2014 triumph at the 2015 FIVB World League ©Getty Images

In a statement, the FIVB told insidethegames that they "respect the decision of every National Federation to choose which events they participate in - at national, continental and international levels".

They added: "The FIVB would like to reiterate that, on a global level, the World League is the most prestigious international men's volleyball event - a tradition which started in 1990.

"Next year will mark the 26th edition of the competition and the FIVB looks forward to welcoming the top teams in the world to participate."

Germany have been replaced in the men's draw by Japan.

Germany's women pictured facing Azerbaijan in a recent match in Trieste ©Getty ImagesGermany's women pictured facing Azerbaijan in a recent match in Trieste ©Getty Images

The difficulty has arisen because  of changes to the qualification system which increase opportunities for non-European nations to qualify for Rio 2016, and thus make it unlikely there will be a repeat of the situation at London 2012, where seven of the 12 men's teams were European. 

With less positions available through world rankings points and global qualification competitions, the European Games has been one beneficiary, with a strong line-up having been unveiled today.

As well as Germany, the men's competition will consist of Italy, Serbia, world champions Poland, Bulgaria, Germany, France, Finland, Belgium, Slovakia and Turkey. 

In the women's event meanwhile, Serbia will be the top ranked team, and will face opposition from Italy, Turkey, Germany, the Netherlands, Poland, Belgium, Croatia, Bulgaria and Romania.

"With Rio 2016 Olympic ranking points available for the European Games, we are assured of all the top teams of Europe taking part in Baku 2015," said Baku 2015 chief operating officer Simon Clegg.

"This means increased interest from our television broadcast partners, spectators and volleyball fans all over Europe."

European Volleyball Federation President André Meyer, added: "With some of the top teams in Europe now qualified in both the men's and women's competitions, we will be guaranteed high-quality action once the European Games gets underway.

"Baku 2015 will represent a real high point in the international volleyball calendar and we are all looking forward to what will be an exciting inaugural event in Azerbaijan."

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