The Federation Internationale de Natation is the governing body for water sports throughout the world. Water polo comes under the rules and regulations of this body, which is also known by its acronym, FINA. There are subsidiaries of FIMA in all countries of the world so that these countries can carry out the rules and objectives of the organization in their own countries and participate in the board elections making that decision making role an international one.
The Federation Internationale de Natation was established in July 1908 after the close of the Summer Olympics. In its first year of operation there were only eight countries that participated – Belgium, Sweden, Denmark, Hungary, Britain, Finland, France and Germany. Today there are 201 countries that are part of this organization.
The Water Polo League came into being in 2002 as a result of the huge amount of interest in the sport that was generated by the competitions in the Olympic Games. In 2002, a men’s water polo league was established with the best players in the world in this sport competing on national teams. The prize for winning the championship was $500,000. The 2000 Summer Olympics featured water polo competition for women and this led to the establishment of a women’s league in 2004.
FIMA has changed the rules of water polo somewhat to comply with the requirements of television coverage. A typical match consists of four nine-minute quarters separated by a ten minute break at half-time. Whenever a tie occurs in the game the winner is decided by means of a penalty shootout.
FIMA’s World Polo League holds the international championship in July of each year. As with other championship competition the location changes from year to year. This consists of two round preliminary tournaments for each group in various cities. The top three teams in each group then advance to compete in two semi-final rounds. The winners of these rounds are eligible to compete in the Super Finals, which are held in August. The teams from the country hosting the Super Finals automatically qualify. The prize structure for the winners is $100,000 for first place, $70,000 for second place and $50,000 for third place.
The Federation Intenationale de Natation has strict rules regarding the taking of illegal substances by competitors. Antidoping regulations require that all leagues submit regular documentation on each player in order for this athlete to be allowed to compete in the upcoming tournaments. There are specific deadlines that must be met and at the tournaments, random drug testing is designed to keep the water polo contestants on their best behavior.