After more than two years of political infighting that included India losing hosting duties for a preliminary qualifier for the World Championships, the FIVB has lifted its suspension on the Volleyball Federation of India (VFI). The federation had been suspended by the world governing body since December of 2016.
The FIVB said that it was confident that the VFI had resolved its issues to the point where the sport could move forward in the country. The original dispute revolves around a coup of sorts by a number of the federation’s board members to oust the president and hold elections. Those elections were held, but results were released only a year later, and lawsuits ensued. Eventually, the Indian government would recognize the VFI as the governing body for the national level of sport in the country, which brought stability to the organization.
The FIVB’s reinstatement coincides with major movement in the country toward launching a domestic professional league. According to the VGI, FIVB president Ary S Graca sent the VFI a letter congratulating them on the launch of the pro league.
“I congratulate you on the creation of the Pro Volleyball League in India. This is the most important step for the development of our beloved sport in the country. Developing the sport of Volleyball in India is one of the top priorities for FIVB and we extend all our support to the Pro Volleyball league in as many ways as possible.”
In his letter, Graca called India one of their top developmental projects, which VFI Secretary General Ramavtar Singh Jakahr responded to by saying that he “now looks forward to working closely with them for developing a road map which will make India one of the top Volleyball nations in the world.” Jakahr also says he’ll invite Graca to the official opening of the league.
VFI has partnered with Baseline Ventures India Pvt Ltd – the local arm of a massive venture capital form that counts among their successes as being the first seed investor of Instagram.
The Indian league, known as the Pro Volleyball League, is expected to launch in mid-September after this summer’s Asian Games. The league’s format in year 1 is expected to have 18 matches played in two cities, one in the north of the country and one in the south. The league will be made up of mostly Indian players, but hopes to draw national-team-caliber players from around the world. A bidding process will be used to allocate the services of domestic players in mid-July, while a draft system will be used for international players, similar to the one used in Korea.
Bidding for franchises have begun, with team owners expected to be announced soon.