Like Switzerland, where the final of the Footvolley League 2019 takes place, we usually prefer to stay neutral in more political issues. However we received many questions from our member nations and players on how to deal with events like the Meet the Elite event in Brasilia. The short answer is that we as the European continental body will not promote nor support this event. Nevertheless we do wish the European players and all other participants the best of luck. And of course every European member nation has the liberty to determine its own position and support its athletes.
We realize this event is a commercial show event and although several very high level players will attend and it will give footvolley some well deserved media attention, we sincerely hope that a possible next edition will take into account some of our concerns.
Strategies might differ but..
There are several reasons why we do not want to be associated with this particular event. Most of all because it divides and frustrates so many people on different continents. Many feel a lack of respect for all the hard work they put into the development of the sport. The methods used by the organisation of this event go against everything we stand for:
Contacting players directly without informing the national and/or continental federations
Disregarding the national and continental ranking
Trying to convince local organisers in Europe to host similar events without informing the national and European federation
Pledging support to one organiser for a specific date while trying to convince another location for the same date
Branding the images of the official European Championships and other European events with their logo and publishing them without permission
Buying a website address (url) that is directly connected to the European Footvolley League preventing us to go international
All of this combined gives us the impression that this agency has become an competitor. This is even more disappointing because for years the founder has been a welcome guest in many European tournaments. But we will not take it personally. The fact is we all have different ideas and strategies on how to make the sport grow.
Making the sport professional
Footvolley needs and deserves to be recognised as an official sport. That should be the ultimate goal. The main question we often receive from journalists is: “When will footvolley finally be an Olympic sport?”. The first step is recognition as a sport from the International Olympic Committee (IOC). In short this means we need to establish an International Sports Federation (IF). Furthermore the Olympic Charter indicates that in order to be accepted, a sport must be widely practiced by men in at least 75 countries and on four continents and by women in no fewer than 40 countries and on three continents. Nevertheless footvolley does have the value and appeal to be part of the Olympic Games, of that we are certain.
That is why in Rome on May 25, 2015 we founded the European Footvolley League. Our mission is to develop footvolley as an internationally recognized sport through competition and sports development. The ultimate goal of official recognition might still be far off but anyone who believes differently probably has ulterior motives. Some just want to see their event or brand grow.
Footvolley should not only be connected to profit, marketing and exposure on tv. It all starts with respecting the national federations in each country. We still have a long way until all the countries in the world have national federations representing the footvolley players, but that does not mean we can’t start now.
This starts by acting professional with each other and respecting each nation and the players representing that nation. For the EFVL it is important that each of our member nations is represented by a national federation that is respected as the representative for the footvolley players in that country.
Some advice moving forward
To make the world of footvolley a better place we have the following advice for 2019 and forward:
Invite players to tournaments using proper channels. That means contacting the national federation and/or the ambassador for that country. If that is too difficult, contact the continental federation or include it anyhow.
Respect the ranking
More and more countries are being organized and with national ranking systems. The top teams are first in line to attend tournaments and represent their country. They have fought for it and they deserve it.
Respect the flag
Do not let players represent a country if they are not holding a passport for that country. For mixed teams (two players from different countries) we recommend using denominations such as “International”, “Mixed” etc. and not just pick a random country (believe us, this happens a lot).
Maybe you are organizing a tournament and you know what teams you want to attend. Instead of contacting the players directly we urge you to still send the invitation through the national federation making sure they are informed. Let them know who you want to invite and that the tournament is not based on national ranking. They will represent their country with the flag on their shirts so it seems only fair the national federation should be informed.
Do not use images and videos without permission
Of course we should share each other's media output as much as possible. But if you are not the owner of audiovisual materials (pictures, videos, logos) always ask for permission to use them (especially when associated with a brand).
The EFVL strives to create an open and transparent footvolley community in Europe. We focus our energy on what happens in Europe, but we also support the general expansion of footvolley around the world. However, as we strive to be transparent in all that we do we expect others to do the same to us.
For too long the development of this beautiful sport has been compromised because the system and the powers behind it were regional, top down and exclusive. That’s what we are trying to change. And the European Footvolley League is not alone on this. The Asian Footvolley Federation, the National Footvolley Association of the USA, the Russian Footvolley League, the UAE Footvolley Association, some great initiatives in Australia and Africa and so many others are doing a wonderful job applying the same principles. We all feel strongly connected to Brazil, where footvolley on the beach was born and we all have many friends. But we hope they can solve their differences and we offer them our table to meet and discuss the future of the sport.