Long Beach in July will host the first FIVB event held in the U.S. since '03
With the Int'l Federation of Volleyball (FIVB) returning to the U.S. for the first time in nearly a decade, governing body President Ary Graca said that he eventually would "like to expand" to Florida, New Orleans or perhaps N.Y., according to Jimmy Golen of the AP. Although U.S. players remain among the elite in beach volleyball, "the sport has struggled back home." Graca said, "For me, it's impossible to get good sponsors, good TV, without being in the U.S., the land of the money, the land of the TVs. For me, it's obvious that we must invest a lot of money in these markets, for the good of the sport, and also because we need sponsors." The FIVB's backing "virtually guarantees" that the July 22-28 event in Long Beach, Calif.
, "will draw the best players." Graca: "This is the correct moment, the right moment to be more aggressive in this market. I'm quite sure that we can make a very, very good tournament in the United States. It's not enough to have a big success in the Olympic games, as the United States are now." Former AVP Commissioner Leonard Armato has organized the event, and "combining his experience running beach volleyball events with NBC's history broadcasting the sport helped sell the idea." Graca said, "Beach volleyball is the 16th sport in the United States; this is absurd, because in the rest of the world we are the second sport. It's only the beginning. I have a plan over the next eight years." Armato said, "I want an event that has mass appeal and not niche appeal" (AP, 5/21
). Armato added, "My theory is you've got to go big or go home. If you don't do something big, don't bother in this day and age because nobody will take notice of it" (ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER, 5/22