As was expected, most European national teams are not pleased with the FIVB’s recent published criteria for qualification to the 2020 Olympic Games. Of them, the one with the most reason to be infuriated is, of course, Poland, the current World Champions, which despite boasting the important title, will still have to contend for Olympic qualification.
We have already reported some inflammatory remarks by some of Poland’s top volleyball personalities regarding the issue. For example, former Polish national teamer and current club coach Wojciech Drzyzga has called for the rise of a player/coach union to set up a strike against the FIVB. Not to be outdone, former Polish national teamer and world champion Krzysztof Ignaczak stated that people would have no interest in teams such as Senegal during the Olympics.
Recent reports in the Polish media have shown that the fire regarding the issue has not yet died out. Respected journalist Jerzy Mielewski, upon learning of the new criteria, questioned why have the World Cup in 2019 at all, if it won’t grant an Olympic berth, and categorized the event as comical. An Olympic champion with Poland in 1976, Tomasz Wójtowicz shared his sentiments:
“We need to be wise, have priorities. Players shouldn’t go through this. We should send reserves to the World Cup. Supporters of other sports disciplines are right, joking about what the FIVB grandfathers are coming up with for volleyball”
Wojciech Drzyzga followed up on his earlier remarks, this time with an ever more controversial opinion:
“The gentlemen from FIVB will not let us sleep well. The whole world is outraged not only because we are world champions, but also because FIVB’s brass previously promised to loosen the calendar.. Does someone responsible for the games want to make a cabaret for African volleyball players, or perhaps poor Asia? It looks bad.”
Lastly, Jacket Palowski also wasn’t shy on letting his opinion be heard:
The FIVB is performing an Olympic circus. Even worse, FIVB executives, despite numerous calls from the volleyball community, are not doing much to change this. Poland is the most prestige-deprived team with the institution. Two world titles does not grant it even a moment of respect. What would an Olympic tournament be without the world champions?
For years, Poland has been the driving force of the entire sport and unrivaled model when it comes to volleyball events. Full arenas and a guarantee of the highest quality are standards in our country, which can’t be said for some other places. It was possible to find out about it, for example, at the WCH organized in Italy and Bulgaria. The list of organizational mishaps was surprisingly long for just a single event.
It is high time that the representatives of the Polish volleyball authorities take upon themselves the burden of fighting for the good of the whole discipline. “Because if not us, then who” – one would like to say. In the country on the Vistula, volleyball has been enjoying unflagging popularity for years, which only confirms that there is no shortage of competent people in Poland with an idea to build a positive image for the whole discipline. This is currently missing in FIVB. The activities of CEV representatives also seem to be missing, even though Aleksandar Boricić has recently pledged that he will do everything to make Europe a more significant player in the global market. It seems, however, that the representatives of the Old Continent are not too inclined to unite in the fight for their own interests.”
The tone and range shown in the criticism by the Polish volleyball community cannot go unnoticed by the FIVB. The institution, highly praised by the IOC for its efforts in promoting the sport, is running the risk of ostracizing one of its biggest markets. It’s time for it to push for a dialogue with the current world champions.