Following the cancellation of the 2020 season due to the coronavirus pandemic the FIVB Volleyball Nations League will have its third edition in 2021 with high expectations for another remarkable couple of months of amazing volleyball action around the world. This comes on the back of a spectacular and highly successful season in 2019, which saw Russia's men and USA's women pick up the gold medals.
Carrying on from the successful 2019 competition, the 2021 FIVB Volleyball Nations League continues in the same format of 12 core teams and 4 challenger teams per gender.
- The men's core teams are Argentina, Brazil, China, France, Germany, Iran, Italy, Japan, Poland, Russia, Serbia and USA. They are complemented by the challenger teams of Australia, Bulgaria and Canada, plus newcomers Slovenia who won the 2019 FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup and are replacing Portugal who were relegated that same year.
- The women's core teams include Brazil, China, Germany, Italy, Japan, Korea, Netherlands, Russia, Serbia, Thailand, Turkey and USA. The challenger teams are Belgium, the Dominican Republic and Poland, plus newly promoted Canada who won the latest FIVB Volleyball Challenger Cup to replace Bulgaria who were relegated in 2019.
The competition dates for the 2021 VNL remain to be announced.
Teams are placed in pools of four teams each until each has played against every other in a single round robin tournament.
The top five teams at the end of the Preliminary Round join the hosts of the Finals to fight for the ultimate prize.
Last year in Chicago, Russia beat hosts USA for the men's gold medal, while Poland outplayed Brazil for bronze. In the women’s competition in Nanjing, USA overcame Brazil in the final and hosts China picked up bronze with a win over Turkey.
The whole competition totals 260 matches – 130 per gender across the almost two-month duration. With an identical format for men and women, the Volleyball Nations League promotes equality in volleyball, while also making it simpler and more engaging to follow.