Several important meetings, which affects the future of the water polo game, were held during the past few weeks.
One of the most important was the consultation, which was organised by LEN during the Final Six in Budapest. The headquarter of LEN and the representatives of national federations discussed the proposed changes to the Water Polo Rules, presented by FINA. The conclusion of the meeting is clear: Europe is against the new rules!
LEN: The changes to the rules do not improve the quality
In the statement which is published by LEN is written:
“All Nations present at the Meeting held in Budapest on the 26 May on the occasion of the LEN Final 6 unanimously agree that the Proposed Changes to the Water Polo Rules as presented by the FINA Bureau shall not be supported at the Technical Water Polo Congress to be held on the 13 July 2017 at 14.00 during the World Championships in Budapest 2017.
The members present for the meeting strongly believe that such changes to the rules do not in any way improve the quality of the sport and can seriously negatively affect the spirit of the game from both technical and promotional aspects thus limiting the development of the sport from a worldwide perspective.
It was furthermore resolved that the members present would endeavour to obtain support from other nations outside of Europe on this matter in order to make a common front and ensure that the game of Water Polo is adequately protected.”
To remind, the proposed rules are:
– 11 players in the team (instead of 13)
– 6 players (5 players, 1 goalkeeper) in the field (instead of 7)
– 25-meter playing course (instead of 30 meters)
– 25 seconds duration of attack (instead of 30 seconds)
– 15 seconds exclusion period (instead of 20 seconds)
– women’s size ball for the men’s competitions
The proposed changes were tested in several junior competitions including the 2016 FINA Youth Boys Championship in Montenegro, and most of the coaches weren’t satisfied with the new rules.
New format of the Champions League
LEN, also, presented the new format of the Champions League. Twelve clubs will get “wild cards” from the season 2017-2018. In the first four editions, eight clubs had the wild cards and they were directly qualified for the Preliminary round. The “wild card teams” at this moment are the new European champion Szolnok (Hungary), Jug (Croatia), Pro Recco (Italy), Olympiacos (Greece) Barceloneta (Spain), Spandau 04 (Germany), Partizan (Serbia), Nice (France). The list of new wild card holders will be announced soon. It is supposed that the new clubs will be representatives of Montenegro, Russia, Netherlands and Romania.
Sixteen (16) clubs will compete in the preliminary round of the Champions League (12 with wild cards and four from the qualification rounds). The teams will be drawn into two groups (8 clubs in each). The teams ranked 1st, 2nd and 3rd in each group will qualify for the Final Six. Pro Recco is, as the technical host, already qualified for the 2018 Final Six. If Pro Recco isn’t among 3 best teams in its group (what is unbelievable), 2 teams will be qualified from that group.
Water polo has been excluded from the European Games
Bad news for water polo came from Skoplje. The European Olympic Committees held their Executive Committee meeting in the capital of Macedonia. The highlight of the meeting was the discussion about the competition programme at the 2019 European Games in Minsk (Belarus).
The water polo competition will not be organised at the Games in Minsk.
The Games will be compliant with International Olympic Committee’s Agenda 2020 which asks more compact Games, with fewer sports and fewer athletes than at The First European Games in Baku 2015.
In the statement that is published on the official website of EOC is not specified which sports will be in the program, but some other sport’s European federations published the list, which they received from EOC. All aquatics sports have been excluded: water polo, swimming, diving and synchronised swimming. All of these sports were in the program of the 1st European Games. The reason for this decision might be sports facilities, but it doesn’t matter now.
The water polo events at the 2015 Games were for junior players only (17 years and younger). Serbia won the gold in the male competition. Russia was the best women’s team.