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FIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup

The FIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup is an international volleyball competition contested by the senior women's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), the sport's global governing body. Initially the tournament was played in the year following the Olympic Games, but since 1991 the World Cup has been awarded in the year preceding the Olympic Games. The current champion is China, which won its fifth title at the 2019 tournament.

FIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup
Current season, competition or edition:
Current sports event 2019 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup
Inaugural season1973
CEOBrazil Ary Graça
No. of teams12
ContinentInternational (FIVB)
Most recent
 China (5th title)
Most titles China (5 titles)
Official websiteFIVB Volleyball Women's World Cup

The current format of the competition involves 12 teams, including the automatically qualifying host nation Japan, competing in the tournament phase for the title at venues within the host nation over a period of about two weeks. The World Cup (with exception of the 2019 edition) acts as the first qualification event for the following year's Olympic Games with the top two teams qualifying.

The 13 World Cup tournaments have been won by five different national teams. China have won five times. The other World Cup winners are Cuba, with four titles; Italy, with two titles; and Japan and Russia (as Soviet Union), with one title each.

This tournament should not be confused with the FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship.



The World Cup was created in 1965 with the purpose of partially filling the gap between the two most important volleyball tournaments, the Olympic Games and the World Championship, which take place in alternating 4-year cycles. The establishment of a third international competition would leave only one in every four years with no major events. The World Cup has a smaller entry than the World Championship, with at most 12 teams.

The World Cup was to be held in the year following the Olympic Games. The first two tournaments were for men's volleyball only; in 1973, a women's tournament was also introduced. Originally, each tournament had a different host, but in 1977 the competition was transferred to Japan on a permanent basis.

In the 1990s, the installment of annual international events such as the World League and the Grand Prix made the original motivations for the creation of the World Cup obsolete. Instead of letting a consolidated event disappear for lack of interest, the FIVB decided to change its format in 1991: it would be held in the year preceding, and not following, the Olympic Games; and it would be considered a first international Olympic qualification tournament, granting the winner a direct berth in the games.

This move saved the competition. The possibility of securing an early berth for the Olympic Games, thus avoiding extraneous and in some cases tight continental qualification procedures, became a consistent motivation for the national federations to participate in the World Cup. In 1995, the number of Olympic spots granted at the competition was increased to three, as it remained until 2011. In 2015 the number of spots was only two again.


The Women's World Cup has had not one great winner, like its counterpart for men's volleyball, but two: China and Cuba.

The first edition of the tournament was won by the Soviet Union. Japan, the runner-up of 1973, took the gold in 1977. With the help of superstar player Lang Ping, China won the following two editions, in 1981 and 1985.

Then Cuba stepped forward to begin its amazing World Cup career, winning its first title in 1989. With the tournament now as an Olympic qualifier, there followed three more consecutive victories, in 1991, 1995 and 1999.

China came back in 2003 with a remarkably offensive team to win its third title.

Italy won the 2007 edition with an outstanding record of eleven wins in eleven games and only two sets left to the opponents (both lost against Serbia). Italy took a second win in a row in 2011, getting the better hand on United States and China. In 2015, China regained the title.

Competition formulaEdit

The World Cup is the most stable from all competition formulas employed by the FIVB. The following rules apply:

  • The competition takes place in Japan.
  • Twelve teams participate in each event: ten qualified, two per invitation.
    • Japan are always pre-qualified as host nation.
    • The winners of the FIVB World Championship in the previous year are automatically granted a spot.
    • The champion and runner-up of each continental tournament of that year are granted two spots.
    • Since the 1999 edition, only teams not yet qualified for the following Olympic Games can compete in the World Cup; hence hosts of the following year's Olympic Games are not allowed to compete. There will be an exception for the 2019 World Cup, as the tournament will be hosted by Japan and the country will host the 2020 Summer Olympics.
  • The competition is divided in exactly two phases (called "legs").
    • Teams are divided in two pools.
      • At the first leg, each team plays one match against all other teams in its pool.
    • At the second leg, each team plays one match against all the teams in the other pool.
    • Matches take place continuously through two weeks, with one-day breaks every two or three days. Each day, six matches are played.
    • Final standings are calculated by usual volleyball criteria: match points, numbers of matches won, sets ratio (the total number of sets won divided by the total number of sets lost), points ratio, direct confrontation.
  • The top two teams in overall standings, regardless of pools, qualify for the following Olympic Games.
  • The tournament implements very tight line-up restrictions: only twelve players are allowed, and no replacement is permitted, even in the case of injuries.

Results summaryEdit

Medals summaryEdit

1  China5139
2  Cuba4206
3  Italy2002
4  Russia[A]1247
5  Japan1203
6  Brazil0314
7  United States0235
8  Serbia0101
9  South Korea0022
Totals (9 nations)13131339

Participating nationsEdit

  • 1st – Champions
  • 2nd – Runners-up
  • 3rd – Third place
  • 4th – Fourth place
  •  •  – Did not enter / Did not qualify
  •    – Hosts
  • = – More than one team tied for that rank
  • Q – Qualified for forthcoming tournament
  Algeria 11th 12th 2
  Argentina 8th 11th 11th 10th 8th 10th 6
  Brazil 9th 8th 6th 8th 2nd 3rd 2nd 2nd 5th 4th 10
  Bulgaria 7th 1
  Cameroon 12th 1
  Canada 7th 8th 10th 9th 4
  China 4th 1st 1st 3rd 2nd 3rd 5th 1st 3rd 1st 1st 11
  Croatia Part of   Yugoslavia 4th 8th 2
  Cuba 5th 2nd 6th 2nd 1st 1st 1st 1st 6th 4th 9th 11
  Dominican Republic 10th 9th 8th 7th 7th 5
  Egypt 12th 12th 2
  Germany See   East Germany 9th 6th 2
  Hungary 6th 1
  Italy 7th 4th 1st 1st 4
  Japan 2nd 1st 2nd 4th 4th 7th 6th 6th 5th 7th 4th 5th 5th 13
  Kenya 12th 11th 12th 12th 10th 11th 6
  Netherlands 8th 8th 2
  Peru 4th 5th 5th 5th 5th 10th 10th 11th 11th 9
  Poland 8th 6th 2
  Russia See   Soviet Union 2nd 4th 3rd 3
  Serbia See   Yugoslavia See   SCG 5th 7th 2nd 9th 4
  South Korea 3rd 3rd 5th 7th 7th 6th 5th 4th 9th 8th 9th 6th 6th 13
  Spain 11th 1
  Thailand 10th 1
  Tunisia 8th 12th 2
  Turkey 7th 1
  United States 6th 7th 4th 4th 7th 9th 3rd 3rd 2nd 3rd 2nd 11
  Uruguay 10th 1
Discontinued nations
  East Germany 6th See   Germany 1
  Soviet Union 1st 8th 3rd 3rd 2nd 3rd See   Russia 6

MVP by editionEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ FIVB considers Russia (Since 1993) as the inheritor of the records of Soviet Union (1948-1991) and CIS (1992).


External linksEdit