MAY 14 - RUBEN ACOSTA (pictured), one of the world's most controversial sports chiefs, is to surprisingly step down as head of the international volleyball federation (FIVB) before London 2012, it was announced today.


The 74-year-old Mexican plans to retire at the FIVB congress next month in Dubai, two years before the end of his current mandate and resist overtures to carry on until 2012.


Acosta was instrumental in promoting the growth of indoor volleyball as a global sport and getting beach volleyball on to the Olympic programme.


Since becoming FIVB president at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, Acosta has been one of the longest serving, most powerful and influential of Olympic sports administrators.


He changed the rules of the sport to make it television-friendly, affiliated more nations - 220 - than any other Olympic sport and survived a challenge to his rule by former colleagues who accused him of corruption.


Acosta was cleared by a Swiss court two years ago of charges relating to sponsorship and television marketing deals.


However, his handling of the Argentine federation run by one of his accusers prompted an inquiry by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) ethics commission.


Acosta resigned his IOC membership in 2004.


Acosta surprised members of the FIVB administration board when he notified them of his retirement plans, just days after he welcomed volleyball officials from across the world in Lausanne for the opening of the federation’s new headquarters - a chateau overlooking Lake Geneva.


The FIVB said board members tried to talk Acosta out of resigning and urged him to reconsider before the meeting in Dubai, where they had planned to ask him to stay for four more years up until London.


The FIVB said, however, it was “very unlikely that he would change his mind between now and the middle of June.”