The FIVB Club World Championship is once again in the limelight, and not just for the games. Turkish powerhouse, Halkbank Istanbul, recently took to social media to announce their participation in the upcoming championship in Bangalore, India, from December 6 to 10.
Other participants include:
- Sir Sicoma Perugia (ITA)
- Sada Cruzeiro Volei (BRA)
- Itambe Minas (BRA)
- Suntory Sunbirds (JPN)
- Ahmedabad Defenders (IND)
However, this roster of teams raises eyebrows. The essence of the FIVB Club World Championship, by its very title, suggests the assembly of the world’s elite volleyball clubs – those that have earned their place through stringent criteria. One would expect teams from all global confederations to be present. However, this year’s lineup suggests otherwise.
For instance, while Halkbank Istanbul is undeniably formidable, they weren’t Turkey’s champions last season. They were even ousted in the quarterfinals of the CEV Champions League by Italy’s Lube Volley Civitanova. Sir Sicoma Perugia (their participation has not yet been officially confirmed), despite being the 2022 winners of the FIVB World Club Championship, wrapped up last season of the Italian SuperLega at sixth place. They didn’t even qualify for any international events under CEV this season and were eliminated in the CEV Champions League semifinals by the Polish team ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle. Grupa Azoty ZAKSA Kędzierzyn-Koźle, winners of the 2023 Champions League, along with Jastrzębski Węgiel, opted out of the competition this year.
Ahmedabad Defenders, though hosting, don’t rank at the pinnacle of either global or Asian volleyball. Teams like Sada Cruzeiro and Itambe Minas, due to their performances in the South American Club Championship, alongside the winners of the Asian Club Championship, Suntory Sunbirds, have a more apparent claim to their spots.
Yet, if we take a step back, only three or four teams (including 2022 champions, Perugia) out of the six align with what might be considered “provisional” criteria for such a prominent event. Moreover, with the absence of representatives from the African Confederation (CAVB) and NORCECA, this championship can hardly be deemed a “World” event, especially when some leading teams from the preceding season are absent.
The FIVB Club World Championship should be a culmination of the best from the volleyball world. Yet, with missing confederations and top-performing clubs, this edition leaves more questions than answers.