|No. of teams||24 (Finals)|
|Poland (3rd title)|
|Most titles||Russia (6 titles)|
|Official website||FIVB Volleyball World Championships|
The FIVB Volleyball Men's World Championship is an international volleyball competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Volleyball (FIVB), the sport's global governing body. The initial gap between championships was variable, but since 1962 they have been awarded every four years. The current champion is Poland, which won its third title at the 2018 tournament defending the championship title.
The current format of the competition involves a qualification phase, which currently takes place over the preceding three years, to determine which teams qualify for the tournament phase, which is often called the World Championship Finals. 24 teams, including the automatically qualifying host nation(s), compete in the tournament phase for the title at venues within the host nation(s) over a period of about a month.
The 19 World Championship tournaments have been won by seven different national teams. Russia (as Soviet Union) have won six times, and they are the only team to have played in every tournament. The other World Championship winners are Brazil, Italy, and Poland, with three titles each; Czech Republic as (Czechoslovakia) with two titles; and Germany as (East Germany), and United States, with one title each.
The 2018 World Championship was co-hosted by Italy and Bulgaria.
The history of the World Championship goes back to the beginnings of volleyball as a professional, high level sport. One of the first concrete measures taken by the FIVB after its foundation in 1947 was the establishment of an international competition involving teams from more than one continent. In 1949, the first edition was played in Prague, Czechoslovakia. At that point, the tournament was still restricted to Europe.
Since volleyball was to be added to the Olympic Program in 1964, the 4-cycles were advanced in 2 years after the fourth edition (1960), so that the World Championship may alternate with the Summer Olympic Games. As of 1970, teams from Africa also took part in the competition, and the original goal of having members from all five continental confederations in the games was achieved.
The number of teams involved in the games has changed significantly over the years. Following volleyball's increase in popularity, they raised steadily to over 20 in the 1970s and part of the 1980s, were then cut short to 16 in the 1990s, and finally set up in 24 after 2002. Today, the World Championship is the most comprehensive of all events organized by the FIVB, and arguably the most important, alongside the Olympic Games.
Until 1974, the host nation of the tournament organized both the men's and the women's events, with the single exception of the 1966/1967 games, which took place in different years. Since 1978, this practice has been only occasionally observed, for instance, in 1998 and in the 2006 edition, which was held, as the former was, in Japan.
The history of the World Championship clearly demonstrates how volleyball was originally dominated by European nations.
The first two editions were won by the Soviet Union. In 1956, twice runner-up Czechoslovakia took the gold. There followed two more consecutive wins for the Soviet Union, in both cases over Czechoslovakia. The Czechs won a gold medal in the 1966 edition.
In 1970, East Germany prevailed over Bulgaria for their first and only title. In 1974, the Soviet Union threatened to take the lead once more, but ended up being defeated by Poland at the final. Nevertheless, they would confirm their leadership by winning, for the third time, two editions in a row.
1986 saw the first relevant confrontation between United States, the rising major force of the decade, and the traditional leader Soviet Union after the Olympic boycotts of 1980 and 1984. As would be the case two years later at the Seoul Olympic Games, the issue was settled in favour of the Americans led by Karch Kiraly and Steve Timmons. Italy completely dominated the competition in the 1990s, winning all the editions that took place in this decade (1990, 1994, 1998), led by such players as Lorenzo Bernardi and Andrea Giani.
In the 2000s, Brazil became the leading force in the sport, winning three consecutive editions (2002, 2006 and 2010), the first of which in Buenos Aires, Argentina, the same stage where the Brazilians had been runners-up in 1982. In 2014, Poland, playing in home, defeated Brazil in 4 sets at the final achieving their second gold medal and preventing what would be a historical fourth title in a row.
The competition formula of the FIVB World Championship has been constantly changed to fit the different number of teams that participate in each edition. The following rules usually apply:
- Twenty-four teams participate in each event.
- Qualification procedures for the World Championship are long and strenuous, lasting over two years.
- Host nations are always pre-qualified.
- The number of spots available per confederation is determined by the FIVB: Europe has usually the highest, and Africa or South America the lowest.
- To participate in the event, a team must survive a number of qualification tournaments depending on its position in the FIVB World Rankings. Low-ranked teams may have to engage in up to three tournaments to be granted a berth; high-ranked teams typically play only one.
- The competition is divided in at least two phases: a preliminary round and a final round. Depending on the number of participating teams, one or more intermediary rounds may also be required.
- In the preliminary round, teams are organized in pools. Each team plays one match against all other teams in its pool.
- When all the matches of the preliminary round have been played, the top n teams in each pool qualify for the following round(s), and the remaining ones leave the competition. The value of n depends on the number of participating teams and the format that will be employed in the finals.
- The FIVB has tried various different formats for the final round(s). For some years now (2004), there seems to be a consensus that at least semifinals and finals must be played according to the Olympic format.
- Quarterfinals may consist of groups of teams playing against each other, or of direct confrontation; in the latter case additional intermediary rounds might be required to reduce the number of surviving teams to eight.
- The tournament implements very tight line-up restrictions: only twelve players are allowed, and no replacement is permitted, even in case of injuries.
List of hosts by number of championships hosted.
|3||Italy||1978, 2010, 2018*|
|Soviet Union||1952, 1962|
- * = co-hosts.
|Totals (15 nations)||19||19||19||57|
- FIVB considers Russia (since 1993) as the inheritor of the records of Soviet Union (1948–1991) and CIS (1992).
- FIVB considers Czech Republic (since 1994) as the inheritor of the records of Czechoslovakia (1948–1993).
- After the German reunification, West Germany (1949–1990) was renamed Germany (since 1991) and absorbed East Germany (1949–1990) with the records.
- FIVB considers Serbia (since 2007) as the inheritor of the records of Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1948–1991), Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (1992–2002) and Serbia and Montenegro (2003–2006).
- 1949–78 – Not awarded 
- 1982 – Vyacheslav Zaytsev
- 1986 – Philippe Blain (FRA)
- 1990 – Andrea Lucchetta (ITA)
- 1994 – Lorenzo Bernardi (ITA)
- 1998 – Rafael Pascual (ESP)
- 2002 – Marcos Milinkovic (ARG)
- 2006 – Gilberto Godoy Filho (BRA)
- 2010 – Murilo Endres (BRA)
- 2014 – Mariusz Wlazły (POL)
- 2018 – Bartosz Kurek (POL)
- Volleyball at the Summer Olympics
- FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship
- FIVB Volleyball Men's World Cup
- FIVB Volleyball World Grand Champions Cup
- FIVB Volleyball World League
- FIVB Volleyball Men's Nations League
- FIVB Volleyball Men's U23 World Championship
- FIVB Volleyball Men's U21 World Championship
- FIVB Volleyball Boys' U19 World Championship
- List of Indoor Volleyball World Medalists
- Competition introduction.
- Volleywood. "List of MVP by edition - Women's World Championship". Volleywood.net.