WPWL Men’s Super Final 2015, Bergamo: Solemn Opening Ceremony held today

World League

The 14th edition of the FINA Men's Water Polo World League Super Final got underway today with a solemn opening ceremony held at the “Pope John XXIII” congress centre, after the eight participant teams, the referees and the FINA Officials paraded through some central streets, starting from the Town Hall.

The Super Final was officially declared open by the City Mayor, Mr. Giorgio Gori, who earlier had delivered a welcome address to the audience. Welcome addresses were delivered also by the FINA Bureau Liaison Dimitris Diathesopoulos, and by the Italian Federation President, as well as FINA Honorary Secretary Paolo Barelli.

All teams, in turn, walked on the stage, waving their national flag, for the official presentation. National anthems were played.

Both Diathesopoulos and Gianni Lonzi, chairman of the FINA TWPC (in charge of the technical management of the tournament), emphasized the particular importance that the tournament has  this year mainly for two reasons: A. the Super Final’s winner will be automatically qualified for next year’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro; B. the tournament will serve the last important test for the World Championships coming up in about one month in Kazan.

All eight participant teams –  Brazil, Hungary, China, Croatia in Group A; Australia, Serbia, United States and Italy in Group B – are interested to be the first qualifier for Rio 2016, except for Brazil, who is already qualified as the host team of the Olympics. Among them Serbia, Croatia, Hungary and Italy are the most credible contenders for the first place. The United States will be also highly interested in an early qualification: should they not manage it here, they will have to seek it shortly at the Pan Americans Games in Toronto, where the home teamCanada – who recently beat the USA at the Los Angeles International Water Polo Tournament – will not be easy to beat.

Reigning Olympic Champion- Croatia is one of the strong contenders in Bergamo. Photo credit: Giorgo Scala

In any case all teams not qualified from here will have the chance to try and get the qualification at the Worlds, in Kazan, where two places will be at stake.

Of the European teams who will not be qualified for the Olympics after Kazan one will be qualified from the European Championships. As a last resort three more European teams – four if South Africa withdraws – could seek qualification from the FINA Olympic Qualification Tournament next year, in spring time.

Australia has not much to worry: their Olympic qualification is practically assured from the continental tournament that will be played in Oceania, where they will have no rivals. On the contrary, China will have to face a very strong opposition from Kazakhstan, and also from Japan – if they wish to qualify as the representatives of Asia.

The opening ceremony was preceded by the Technical Meeting, which took place at the competition venue, the Italcementi Complex (two indoor and three outdoor swimming pools).
Curiously three head coaches of the teams present in Bergamo had previously coached different national teams. They are Dejan Udovicic, United States (previously Serbia); Paolo Malara, China (previously Italy) and Ratko Rudic, Brazil (previously Yugoslavia, Croatia, Italy, United States).

The Italcementi Complex. Photo credit: Giorgo Scala

As for the previous phases of the World League, the Super Final will also be played in a 25-metre field and will represent a significant test for such experimental, important, rule change.

All matches of the FINA Men's Water Polo World League Super Final will be streamed live and free of charge on FINAtv while Italy’s national broadcaster RAI will broadcast live all six Italy’s matches.