Italian Volleyball League
The Italian Male Volleyball League is structured in several levels of importance; the highest of them is SuperLega (former Serie A1). Since early 1980s, many among the best volleyball players in the world play in Superlega and the overall level of competition is considerably high.
- SuperLega (highest level, 13 teams, no relegations);
- Serie A2 (second level, 12 teams, one promotion and no relegations);
- Serie B1 (third level, 37 teams separated in three divisions, four promotions, seven relegations)
- Serie B2 (fourth level, 107 teams separated in eight divisions, twelve promotions, 27 relegations)
- Serie C, organized by regional committees
- Serie D, organized by regional committees
- Prima Divisione, organized by provincial committees
- Seconda Divisione, organized by provincial committees
- Terza Divisione, organized by provincial committees.
SuperLega is the highest level club competition in Italian professional male volleyball. It is organized by Federazione Italiana Pallavolo (FIPAV) and Lega Pallavolo Serie A. It was known as Serie A between 1946 and 1977, then as Serie A1 until 2014.
Since 1982, the championship consists of two phases:
- a round-robin tournament (regular season) which picks out the clubs admitted to the second phase and the teams destined to relegation;
- a playoff tournament, which assigned the trophy.
Just in few occasions relegation playouts were disputed.
Volleyball made its first appearance in Italy after the end of World War I. In 1929 a Federazione Italiana Palla a Volo (FIPV) was founded. During the 1930s several tournaments were organized by youth or workers movements within fascist associations like GIL and OND.
After the end of World War II and the overthrow of fascist regime, a new association, called Federazione Italiana Pallavolo, were founded in 1946. Later that year the city of Genoa hosted the first official male championship.
Quickly volleyball became popular in northern regions like Piedmont, Lombardy and especially Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany: clubs based on Ravenna, Modena, Parma, Bologna and Florence regularly won all the championships for more than thirty years. By the 1970s outsider clubs from centre-south cities (Rome, Catania) were more competitive.
In the 1980s the growth of Italy men's national volleyball team led volleyball to a peak of a popularity. After a period in which Turin's CUS and Parma's Santal dominated, great entrepreneurial companies (like Fininvest in Milan, Montedison in Ravenna and Benetton in Treviso) decided to support and invest in volleyball, equipping strong teams which often won European and Intercontinental trophies. During the 1990s and 2000s decades, Serie A1 was by far the best volleyball league in the world, due to the simultaneous presence of all Italian's golden generation members and even all the best foreign players from all over the world (Netherlands, Brazil, Cuba, Russia etc.). All along 1990s, Italian teams dominated all European club competitions and Serie A1 was called "the NBA of volleyball".
Today Serie A1 is called Superlega, it's not the NBA of volleyball anymore, but it's still one of the most difficult and competitive leagues in the world. Italian volleyball is diffused all over the country but, as a consequence of the enormous popularity of other disciplines (football above all) in big cities, it finds its highest popularity in medium-to-large cities.
1936–1941 (OND tournaments)
- 1936: Azogeno Vado Ligure
- 1937: Azogeno Vado Ligure
- 1938: Torti Alessandria
- 1939: Azogeno Vado Ligure
- 1940: not held
- 1941: Lanerossi Schio
1946–today (FIPAV tournaments)
Serie A2 is the second highest level club competition in Italian professional male volleyball. It is organized by Federazione Italiana Pallavolo (FIPAV) and Lega Pallavolo Serie A. It was created in 1977 by splitting the previous Serie A in two tiers (Serie A1 and Serie A2).
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