Imagine the United States becoming the 21st club in league 1 football alongside PSG or OM. Sound unimaginable? And yet, this is what could happen in the French volleyball championship. The Chinese selection wishes to join Ligue A for the next two seasons in order to prepare for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. The National Volleyball League (LNV) confirms a project “well advanced” but far from complete.
So next season we could see a Tours-China or Nice-China poster in the men’s volleyball championship. A national team among the 14 competing clubs: “It’s true that it’s a bit iconoclastic”, recognizes the president of the LNV. “But it’s an exceptional chance, insists Yves Bouget. A phenomenal economic boost.” A form of recognition for French sporting excellence.
There is also a media issue: the French championship, so far broadcast on the League’s online platform, could potentially be broadcast live on CCTV, Chinese public television and its billion viewers. Which would also imply shifting certain matches of the selection to correspond to prime time in Beijing. And then, the LNV does not hide it, “there would be a financial counterpart” which would strengthen the clubs. The amount will remain secret, indicates the League to franceinfo. Yves Bouget denies the sum of 1.3 million which has been advanced.
For its part, the Chinese selection, which is currently ranked 17th in the world, has every interest in getting closer to the best to progress quickly before the Paris Games. But the best are the French volleyball players, Olympic champions in title. Chinese volleyball players would still have to comply with certain constraints: their team could not be champion of League A, nor go down to a lower division, but each match played would count in the classification.
Only positive, therefore, insist the leaders who specify that certain limits have already been set. It remains to be seen in which room, in which city the Chinese team will be based. According to information from franceinfo, the Parisian track has been mentioned but the Salle Charp, within the Charlety stadium, only has 1,400 seats, it is too few. It would therefore be necessary to find a large city with a beautiful hall, a Sports Palace for example, but which does not yet host a league A volleyball club. Bordeaux, for example, could be a lead.“The candidates are numerous and have understood their interest”, assures Yves Bouget.
And then even if the two parties agree, the LNV must first ensure that the arrival of the national team in the French championship is legally possible. This unprecedented situation will probably require changing the statutes or at least the regulations. It will then be necessary to seize the Ministry of Sports, probably next week so that it renders its opinion. An opinion that is not legally binding but that the National Volleyball League has an interest in following. For the moment, the ministry ensures that it has not taken a position on the file.