FINA has confirmed existing rumours that this year’s Super Final of the FINA Men’s World League will be held in Russia for the first time in history. The 24 matches will be played between 11-16 June; a hosting city has not been announced so far. It will be the first FINA event in men’s senior waterpolo to be held in Russia since the 1980 Olympic Games in Moscow.
On the women’s side three FINA events were held in Russia in recent past. The national powerhouse Kirishi, an industrial city in the Leningrad region, hosted the 2005 and 2009 World League Super Final. Furthermore the 2009 World Junior Championships were held in the Siberian oil boom city of Khanty-Mansiysk.
The FINA decions means that only the three group winners of this year’s European prelims can earn a berth for the upcoming Super Final tournament. From the organisers’ point of view the six-day-event will be a good dress rehearsal for the waterpolo tournaments of two upcoming major sports events to be held in Russia. The city of Kazan, home town of Champions League contender Sintez Kazan, will organise this year’s Summer Universiade, the World Games of students. The 2015 FINA World Championships will also be held in Kazan; both events will provide competitions in men’s and women’s waterpolo.
The tournament might also provide a valuable boost for Russian men’s waterpolo which had been facing a visible decline since the bronze medal at the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. The qualification for the 2008 and 2012 Olympic Games had been missed to be followed by missed participations in the 2009, 2011 and 2013 FINA World Championships. The latest downfall was the missed qualification for the 2012 European Championships in Eindhoven, Netherlands so that the new-look team can play their first major event since the 2010 European Championships in Zagreb, Croatia. The Russian squad still holds the honor of being the winner of the inaugural (2002) Super Final edition, which was held in the city of Patras, Greece.
Pictured: The teams of Serbia, already sure of qualification, and Montenegro are likely to be battling for this year’s World League title in June.