The Confédération Européenne de Volleyball (CEV) is the continental governing body for the sport of Volleyball and Beach Volleyball in Europe. Its headquarters are located in Luxembourg City, Luxembourg.
Although the so-called European Sports Commission – a sort of forerunner of CEV - was set up only on October 21, 1963, in Bucharest (Romania) with Max Wasterlain of Belgium being elected President of this institution, Volleyball was already pretty popular in Europe at that time. 9 out of the 14 countries that attended the 1947 Congress which ultimately paved the way for the foundation of the FIVB (Fédération Internationale de Volleyball) were actually stemming from Europe (Belgium, Czechoslovakia, France, Italy, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania and Turkey).
The very first Men’s European Championship was staged in Rome in 1948 with the participation of 6 teams; Czechoslovakia claimed gold, while France and Italy finished second and third respectively. The premiere for the Women’s European Championship followed in 1949 in Prague with a total of 7 teams lining up for the competition that came to a close with the Soviet Union topping the charts ahead of Czechoslovakia and Poland.
Club competitions were also introduced before the official establishment of the European Sports Commission; the men competed for the first time in 1960 and the women only one year later. Both inaugural competitions eventually went to Soviet teams, namely CSKA MOSCOW and Dinamo MOSCOW respectively.
Only one year after Volleyball debuted at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo and the guys from the Soviet Union were crowned champions there, a decision was endorsed by the European Sports Commission to organize Junior European Championships every 2 years. The inaugural competition was held in Hungary in 1966 with the Soviet Union topping the standings in both genders.
Mr. Wasterlain stepped down from the Presidency of the European Sports Commission (ESC) in 1969 to be replaced by Mr. Vladimir Savvin (URS). The Administration Council of the ESC adopted in 1970 a provision that practically introduced the formula nowadays known as “final four” for the last and deciding stage of the European Cups.
The FIVB Congress staged in 1972 as the Olympic Games were being held in Munich decided that the five continental Sports Associations of Africa, Asia, Europe, NORCECA and South America were to be transformed into Continental Confederations.
The European Volleyball Confederation, or Confédération Européenne de Volleyball, was officially established on September 9, 1973 in The Hague during a special General Assembly of the ESC. Italy’s Giancarlo Giannozzi was elected its first President.
1975 was another key year for CEV as the General Assembly organized in Belgrade defined the composition of the Board of Administration, comprising 11 members, including 1 President and 4 Vice-Presidents. It was also decided that any Federation organizing the final round of the European Championships – at that time the men’s and women’s competition were still combined – did commit itself also to stage the CEV General Assembly slated for that same year.
In 1979,after Giannozzi passed away, Mr. Vahit Colakoglu of Turkey assumed the ad-interim Presidency of CEV before Georges Boudry was eventually sworn in at the Congress organized that same year in France. This role was taken over by Czechoslovak Dusan Prielozny in 1983 before Piet de Bruin (NED) assumed the Presidency in 1987. At that time a revised formula was introduced to govern the final phase of the European Championships, to rank all participating teams from 1 to 8. This format was applied for the first time at the competition played in Belgium where the Soviet Union and East Germany claimed gold in the men’s and women’s division respectively.
In 1989 the CEV headquarters moved from Brussels – where they had been located since the establishment of the European Sports Commission – to Luxembourg. For the first time in history the final rounds of the European Championships took place in different countries, i.e. Sweden (men) and West Germany (women). At the time where Italy’s golden generation started sweeping all major international events, the Board decided to create a working group – comprising 3 persons – in charge of studying the possible creation of a Beach Volleyball Commission.
With the break-up of the Soviet Union and of the former Yugoslavia, in 1992 the CEV family was joined by 11 new members: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Croatia, Estonia, Georgia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia, Slovenia and Ukraine.
One year later, in 1993, upon the resignation of Mr. de Bruin, Michalis Mastrandreas of Greece was elected President after an extraordinary Board of Administration meeting held in Brno. As Beach Volleyball was finally included in the Olympic program and likely to make its debut in Atlanta, a European circuit was launched in Almeria (Spain).
Two years later - as Dr. Rolf Andresen (GER) took over the Presidency of CEV - the very first Youth European Championships were organized in Spain with the participation of 8 teams in both genders.
1996 was another memorable year for CEV as the official website www.cev.lu was created and Greenland joined the European Volleyball family, bringing the total up to 54 National Federations.
The most prestigious and competitive club competition worldwide, i.e. the Champions League, was established at the dawn of the third millennium, replacing the former Champions Cup. PARIS Volley (FRA) and Volley MODENA (ITA) claimed the very first crown in the men’s and women’s competition.
In 2001 Mr. André Meyer of Luxembourg was elected President. He currently enjoys a second term after having been confirmed at the CEV General Assembly organized in Rome in 2005. That came as the final round of the Men’s European Championships was historically being organized in two different countries (Serbia & Montenegro and Italy), with finals played in Rome. Before the re-election of Mr. Meyer, CEV had already celebrated its 30th anniversary on March 21, 2003 in Milan.
After a referendum that called for independence from the State Union with Serbia, Montenegro joined CEV in 2006 to bring the total of affiliated National Federations up to 55 units.
The structure of the European Cups was additionally revised in 2007 with the cancellation of the Top Teams Cup; the CEV Cup was upgraded to second-best European club competition and the Challenge Cup was introduced to complete the CEV portfolio. In 2009 the final round of the CEV European Championship – Women was organized – for the first time ever – across four different venues in Poland (Lodz, Katowice, Wroclaw and Bydgoszcz) breaking all previous records in terms of spectators’ attendance and TV audience. That same year CEV took over from FIVB the task to organize Satellites and Challenger tournaments on the “Old Continent” for a further promotion of Beach Volleyball across all up and coming National Federations.
In 2010 the inaugural Beach Volleyball Continental Cup was launched and the first step – the so-called Sub Zonal Phase – was held in 8 different countries as teams embarked on a quest for a spot to make it to London 2012. That run was eventually completed in June 2012 as Norway and Russia claimed the men’s and women’s finals to qualify one pair each for the Olympic tournament.
At the CEV General Assembly held in Ljubljana, Slovenia, the addition of the European Coaches Commission (ECOC) to the CEV institutional organs was announced and adopted by the Congress where organizers for all Championships scheduled for 2012 and 2013 were confirmed as well.
CEV President André Meyer was elected for another four-year term in Vienna as Austria’s capital city was playing host to the CEV General Assembly as well as to the final weekend of the 2011 Men’s European Championship. The CEV General Assembly held in Vienna wrote history also because for the first time CEV – similarly to all other Continental Confederations – was given by FIVB the right to conduct their own elections to fill in the eight vacancies available for Europe in the FIVB Board of Administration; four seats were reserved for members of the CEV Board of Administration, while the remaining four were open to any European candidate.
2011 will also be remembered as Serbia’s golden year as the Balkan country did practically dominate the continental scene by medaling at every championship notwithstanding gender and age groups. Both of Serbia’s senior national teams seized European gold thereby emulating the Soviet Union, the last nation – in 1991 – capable of winning both European Championships in the same year. Some months before the youth national teams from that country had won gold (boys) and silver (girls) at the European Championship before they went on to perform very solidly at the World Championship with the boys finishing first and the girls ranked third. That memorable year was completed by the success that Serbia’s women claimed in the CEV Volleyball European League and by a bronze medal seized by the juniors at the Men’s U21 World Champs in Brazil.
In 2012 the major highlight was certainly represented by the London Olympics where Volleyball and Beach Volleyball were under the spotlight with massive crowds accompanying the tournaments held at Earls Court and Horse Guards Parade. Coming back from two sets down and as Brazil was almost ready to party Russia’s men cruised to Olympic gold for the first time in 32 years with Italy adding the icing on the cake with a valuable bronze medal. However, history was written at the iconic venue of Horse Guards Parade where Germany’s Julius Brink and Jonas Reckermann became the first European pair ever to win Olympic gold in Beach Volleyball.
They did so after winning the 2009 World Championship in Stavanger, Norway, and overcoming an injury that had sidelined Reckermann for some months. Latvia’s Martins Plavins and Janis Smedins finished third for another milestone in Volleyball history and to claim one of only two medals for their small country at London 2012.
On May 4, 2013 CEV President André Meyer could proudly unveil the state-of-the-art premises owned by CEV in Luxembourg City. With a series of illustrious guests in attendance, including FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça F°, the President of the Comité Olympique et Sportif Luxembourgeois (COSL), André Hoffmann, and Luxembourg Sports Minister Romain Schneider, the CEV President was visibly touched as he welcomed his colleagues from 41 national federations to what stands out as the real “home” of Europe’s Volleyball family. “It is a comfortable feeling to know that you stand on your own ground. Land is about the only thing that can’t fly away” the CEV President said quoting Anthony Trollope, one of the most successful and respected English novelists of the Victorian era.
That same day the CEV President addressed his guests from the stage set up at Neumünster Abbey for the Gala that celebrated the CEV 40th anniversary. “On our way to the next 40 years, our recipe won’t change: commitment, devotion, total passion for the sport but most of all teamwork on and off the Volleyball court” Mr. Meyer said looking already ahead on what was a special and emotional night to commemorate the 40 years since the establishment of the European Volleyball Confederation. “Together we can face any challenges as deep as the ocean and as high as the sky!” he added thereby conveying a message of unity and cohesion that will drive Europe’s Volleyball family also for the years to come.
The celebrations for the CEV 40th anniversary were completed in September 2013 with the XXXIV General Assembly held in Copenhagen and with two memorable editions of the European Championship whose Final Rounds were held in Berlin and Copenhagen for women and men respectively. Russia returned to dominate the scene by winning both crowns and with their men’s national team topping the charts for the first time since 1991, i.e. since the break-up of the former Soviet Union. The final weekend of the men’s competition was one of a kind as the matches were held at the Parken national stadium in Copenhagen that in less than 24 hours was transformed into a Volleyball arena that could welcome more than 7,000 spectators, including Crown Prince Fredrik of Denmark.