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Volleyball federation questions Argentina over ‘culturally insensitive’ celebration

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FIVB, the international volleyball federation, has asked Argentina’s federation to answer for gestures made after the team qualified for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics on Sunday.

Several players used their fingers to make their eyes appear slanted, an offensive gesture throughout much of Asia. Major League Baseball suspended Houston first baseman Yuli Garriel for five games after making such a gesture, albeit accompanied by a direct verbal insult toward Los Angeles pitcher Yu Darvish, in the 2017 World Series.

“The FIVB has seen the photographs of the Argentinian men’s volleyball team celebrating their victory at the Tokyo Volleyball Qualification Tournament with inappropriate and culturally insensitive gestures,” the federation said in a press statement. “Last week the FIVB made it clear that these type of actions by players and official representatives of national volleyball teams are completely unacceptable. The FIVB is urgently seeking an explanation from the Argentinian National Federation to ensure that all involved understand that their actions will have caused great offence, even if there was no such intention to do so.”

The team qualified by winning a five-set thriller over China, which hosted the qualification event.

Argentinian star Facundo Conte is well-known in the Chinese volleyball community for his years playing with Shanghai Golden Age, and he faced an onslaught of pointed comments on his Instagram feed:

“Dude, explain you behavior please, you spent 2 seasons in Shanghai, you were respected, and show your respect to Chinese,” wrote one person with an unprintable Instagram ID.

“I’m the one who got your T-shirt last night .. excited .. but I feel upset about your behavior (emoji) can you explain to people that you meant no harm?” wrote Instagram user ykj629.

Conte apologized in a temporary Instagram story:

Conte apology

“The idea was that we became Japanese because we are going to Olympics in Tokyo,” Conte said. “It had nothing to do with no respecting China or Japan! Now we know it wasn’t a good idea, and i regret making you feel that way!”

Argentina has reached the quarterfinals of the last two Olympics, losing each time to Brazil.

The team also won the Pan Am Games tournament for second consecutive time earlier this month without Conte, the MVP of the 2015 tournament.

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U.S. beach volleyball stars painfully exit in season’s first Grand Slam

Sean Rosenthal, Phil Dalhausser
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U.S. Olympic beach volleyball champions Kerri Walsh Jennings and Phil Dalhausser suffered injuries in the biggest tournament of the season to date last week, less than a month before the World Championships.

Walsh Jennings, a three-time gold medalist and 36-year-old mother of three, injured her right shoulder in pool play at the Moscow Grand Slam on Wednesday and flew home before the elimination rounds.

Her partner, 2012 Olympic silver medalist April Ross, said the pair hopes to return to competition at an FIVB World Tour event in Stavanger, Norway, next week, two weeks before Worlds in the Netherlands.

After the top U.S. pair’s exit, top Brazilian pair Larissa and Talita went on to take the title in Moscow while dropping one set in seven matches. Larissa and Talita and Walsh Jennings and Ross both won four FIVB World Tour events last season, twice as many as any other pair.

Larissa and Talita, who first partnered during the 2014 season, beat Walsh Jennings and Ross in their only meeting, a one-set exhibition in Rio de Janeiro in February.

On the men’s side, 2008 U.S. Olympic gold medalist Phil Dalhausser said he tore his left oblique a little bit during the first set of his last pool-play match in Moscow. Dalhausser said he probably made the injury worse by playing through it with partner and two-time Olympian Sean Rosenthal and underwent an MRI, according to an FIVB press release.

Rosenthal said he would play with a different partner this week and next week in Europe, while Dalhausser, 35, said on Twitter he would go home for a few weeks.

Spain’s Pablo Herrera and Adrian Gavira were the surprise champions in Moscow, the first Spanish pair to prevail in an FIVB World Tour event since 2008. They lost in the round of 16 at the 2012 Olympics and the quarterfinals of the 2013 World Championships.

Also of note, Brazilian legends Ricardo and Emanuel were eliminated in the quarterfinals in Moscow. Emanuel, 42, and Ricardo, 40, earned medals at each of the last four Olympics, together or separately.

A nation may enter no more than two men’s and two women’s pairs in an Olympic beach volleyball tournament. Two other Brazilian pairs advanced further than Ricardo and Emanuel in Moscow, a tournament whose results play into Brazil’s Olympic qualification system.

The men’s elite international field is widespread. Pairs from 10 different nations won tournaments in 2014, and the first three winners of 2015 were from three different nations.

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Volleyball World Championships trophies stolen in Rio de Janeiro

FIVB volleyball trophy
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The indoor volleyball World Championships trophies were stolen while on a tour in a mall parking lot in Rio de Janeiro, according to the FIVB.

The trophies were previously on display at a fan promotional event on Copacabana Beach, according to The Associated Press.

The FIVB Men’s World Championship is Aug. 30-Sept. 21 in Poland. The Women’s World Championship is Sept. 23-Oct. 12 in Italy.

The FIVB hoped to have the trophies present for the Opening Ceremony and first men’s match in Poland next Saturday. Now, it won’t wait to see if the trophies can be found. It has contacted the Swiss company that made the original trophies for replacements.

“This situation is lamentable as the FIVB worked very hard to create a unique trophy for both World Championships,” FIVB President Dr. Ary S. Graça said in a press release. “The FIVB will work with the local authorities to attempt to recover these iconic pieces of silverware, but in the meantime will act quickly to create new ones so that a trophy will be guaranteed to be present at both finals of the World Champs.”

Brazil is known as a soccer nation, but it is excellent in both beach and indoor volleyball as well. Brazil’s men won the last three indoor World titles, while the women were runners-up to Russia in the last two.

“Contrary to the World Cup trophy, which is worth a lot because it is made of gold, the volleyball trophies don’t have any market value. No one will profit from their sale,” Brazilian confederation superintendent Neuri Barbieri told the AP.

(h/t Surto Olimpico)

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