FIVB President FIVB President Dr Ary S Graça launching the new Volleyball Nations League ©FIVB

The International Volleyball Federation (FIVB) has announced that the Volleyball Nations League (VNL) will begin in 2018.

The VNL - a joint project between the FIVB, management group IMG and 21 National Federations - will involve a number of new features in both the men’s and women’s leagues, it is claimed. 

There will be 12 core teams and four challenger teams will battle to become VNL champion by playing in a round-robin format. 

With a total of 130 matches throughout the league season, every team will play a minimum of 15 matches and each core nation will host at least one pool, bringing the action closer to fans around the world.

For the very first time, the FIVB, in collaboration with IMG, will, it says "take complete control of content production, maximising quality and promoting a compelling, on-court narrative, which is easy for fans to engage with and understand".

They promised they will ensure in-stadium interaction by implementing a new concept called active engagement, where fans are involved in every rally. 

This will include spectators celebrating memorable moments it by imitating match situations like the "Monster Block", already been embraced by fans across the globe.

Delegates in Paris at the announcement of the Volleyball Nations League  ©FIVB
Delegates in Paris at the announcement of the Volleyball Nations League ©FIVB

Speaking at the FIVB’s 70th anniversary celebrations in Paris, where the Volleyball Nations League announcement took place, FIVB President Dr Ary S Graça said: "This is a pivotal moment in the future of our sport. 

"The Volleyball Nations League is the most important competition in the FIVB’s history and will revolutionise how volleyball is presented; making it more fan-centric and placing our fans, both inside and outside the stadium, at the very heart of the action.

"The FIVB has enjoyed great success over the last 70 years; volleyball has grown to become one of the most popular and widely practised sports in the world. 

"But, we must always look forward and find ways to evolve and innovate as we aim to become the world’s number one family sport. 

"The Volleyball Nations League will help us to achieve our vision and set the standard for athlete and viewer experience."

In the men’s event, Argentinia, Brazil, China, France, Germany Iran, Italy, Japan, Poland, Serbia and the United States make up the core teams.

Australia, Bulgaria, Canadia and South Korea are the four designated challenger teams.

For the women’s competition, Brazil, China, Germany, Italy,Japan,  The Netherlands, Russia Serbia, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey and the UScomprise the 12 core nations.

Argentina, Belgium, the Dominican Republic and Poland have been selected as challenger teams.  

China is in action in both men's and women's competitions for the Volleyball Nations League ©Getty Images
China is in action in both men's and women's competitions for the Volleyball Nations League ©Getty Images

"This is a very exciting development for the FIVB and we are delighted to play a pivotal role in the Volleyball Nations League," Ioris Francini, co-President of talent agency WME and IMG, said.

"This unique initiative and format heralds a new era for the sport and will produce an even better experience for all concerned, from the teams and players to fans and viewers watching on various media platforms.

"Our role in producing live matches, along with distributing the media and digital rights, cements our long-standing relationship with the FIVB, which dates back to 2009."

The aim of the VNL is to raise the level of the sporting action for fans and provide a world class platform for athletes to compete and grow. 

"Launching a men’s and women’s competition under the same name and format promotes equality in volleyball, while also making it simpler and more engaging to follow," according to FIVB. 

There will also be a secondary Challenger League, "incorporating promotion and relegation to guarantee that volleyball remains the most competitive and engaging, multi-gender sport in the world, said the FIVB.

More information on the logo, sponsors and venues is due to unveiled in the near future.