By Jonathan Rest
The FIVB, volleyball's governing body, has unveiled an ambitious nine-point plan aimed at elevating the sport's global appeal to the International Olympic Committee and to potential broadcasters and sponsors by 2020.
Ary Graça, president of the FIVB, officially launched the '9 goals' project during beach volleyball's SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals in Fort Lauderdale in Florida, USA on Sunday.
Top of the list is a campaign to move volleyball to Group A from Group B (with soccer, cycling, basketball and tennis) within the IOC's revenue rankings, something Graça proposed to Sportcal a year ago during the women's indoor FIVB World Championships in Italy.
He told Sportcal at the time: "I’d like recognition for what we have done in London. For sure we will do it well in Brazil again, because volleyball and beach volleyball are huge. It will be a success, and then in Japan [Tokyo 2020 Olympics] it will be a hit there too.
“I’d like us to change our position, to be in the first class of IOC sports, with track and field and swimming [and gymnastics]. I don’t think those sports have more success than volleyball. I hope we get to this tier."
On the commercial front, the FIVB said it is seeking to sign up four new global sponsors by 2020, contributing an additional $10 million per year in sponsorship revenue, as a way to "improve the worldwide visibility of the sport and introducing volleyball to new markets around the world."
The federation also hopes to more than double its present annual income of $31 million to $66 million by 2020.
The FIVB's commercial partners are Mikasa, DB Schenker, Honda, Gerflor, Jinling and Rosetta Stone.
Earlier this year, the FIVB rejigged its marketing structure, with Red Bull Media House, the media subsidiary of the energy drink brand, coming on board to distribute broadcast rights to the Beach Volleyball World Tour, and incumbent partner IMG Media, an arm of the sports and entertainment company, focusing on indoor volleyball only.
RBMH's involvement came as Beach Major Company, a joint venture of Red Bull and ACTS Group, the events promoter owned by Austrian entrepreneur Hannes Jagerhofer, announced a partnership with the FIVB. Red Bull signed a 10-year sponsorship deal with the FIVB in October.
Other features of 9 goals are to reach 2 million users on FIVB digital platforms by 2016 and increase the cumulative TV audience by 20 per cent in 2016 and by 100 per cent in 2020.
This weekend's SWATCH FIVB World Tour Finals was promoted strongly on social media by partner Red Bull, and the FIVB said: "Volleyball is followed by hundreds of millions of people around the world and the FIVB wants to ensure as many fans as possible can enjoy the sport they love from the comfort of their own homes. This is particularly important as volleyball looks to become the “number 1 family sport entertainment in the world.”
Also on TV matters, the FIVB has pledged to make available a TV or internet feed for its key events to all 221 national federations by 2016, noting: "As one of the largest sports federation in the world, the FIVB has a duty to ensure that all its members have access to the sport across different platforms."
In addition, the federation has outlined plans to: implement a competitive and sustainable bidding process for all major events by 2018; increase the number of licensed/ amateur players by 2018 to increase the global fan base; and become the number-one sport that serves the needs of humanitarian organisations in their programmes.
Speaking in Fort Lauderdale on Sunday, Graça said: “Today represents a historic and exciting milestone for the FIVB. Our success has been built on the foundation of a strong vision: to make volleyball the number-one family sport entertainment in the world and these 9 goals will help us achieve this vision.
“These goals are fundamental to the ongoing growth and development of volleyball and beach volleyball as we look to engage with the sport’s ever growing global fan base and become the world’s leading family sport entertainment.”