It seems our great sport is very much on the up and up. Reports from Lodz in Poland suggest that the FIVB Volleyball Men’s World Championship is breaking all previous attendance records.
Specifically, the reports so far are that over half a million spectators have been to the games; 508,012 to be exact. That’s the number of spectators who have watched the games of the first and second rounds in Poland at the time of writing, and that smashes all the previous highs in the long history of this competition.
Anyone tuning in from around the globe can’t fail NOT to be surprised at this news. If anything, it’s a wonder the games aren’t even more popular and, if this continues, it has to be great news for our sport’s development, particularly in those countries where volleyball has struggled to get a real foothold in the public’s collective consciousness.
In fact, just the first round on its own had already beaten the spectator numbers seen in the FIVB World Championship in Italy back in 2010. The tournament in Italy was watched by 339,324 people in total, in the stands. And if we go back further still, to Japan in 2006 to be specific, the stats trend proves that our sport is on the up and up even more. In the 2006 World Championships, which was a particularly memorable tournament for this year’s hosts as Poland’s White-and-Reds managed to land a silver medal, the 104 games saw a total audience of 298,352.
The breakdown of individual games’ popularity by the competing teams is also interesting. Obviously, it reflects the participation of the home nation and Poland’s neighbours, but also of the popularity of volleyball in participating countries and perhaps some of the most exciting teams so far in the competition. The “league table” of the top five teams being watched looks like this currently:
Of course, at the time of writing, there are still 11 matches left to play in the tournament, which can be potentially attended by up to 125,400 spectators, so hold the front page for the time being.
As for who’s going to emerge victorious from the whole world championships – well, the bookmakers currently have Brazil installed as favorites at around 6/4. But if you can find a free bet with a reputable bookmaker you haven’t previously registered with, then many pundits like third favorites France’s chances at around 6/1 or better. The hosts, meanwhile, are a best-priced 9/1 at the time of writing.
Good luck with whatever you choose and get over to Poland – if you can find a seat that is!