Mumbai: Around 176 hockey players from India and across the world are all set to take part in the World Series Hockey to be held from December 15, 2011 to January 22, 2012.
A joint venture between the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and Nimbus Sport -- World Hockey series -- will feature 61 matches.
The captains of eight city-based franchisee teams were announced at a media conference and the list includes top Indian internationals -- Sardara Singh, Adrian D`Souza, Arjun Halappa and Prabhjot Singh -- all of whom were present at the occasion here, along with drag-flicker Sandeep Singh.
Four other teams would be captained by Australia`s Brent Livermore, Pakistan`s Rehan Butt, former Spain captain Rodrigo Garza and Argentina`s Lucas Vila.
Six venues for the five-week long tournament have already been identified and those include Delhi, Mumbai, Punjab (Amritsar, Jalandhar and Chandigarh) Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad.
Two more cities would be chosen subsequently, it was announced.
Nimbus Communications` Executive Chairman Harish Thawani, in the presence of IHF`s President R K Shetty and Chief Advisor K P S Gill, said the decks for participation of several top players have been cleared, following his meeting in Europe with International Hockey Federation`s (FIH) Chief Leander Negre.
"All those players we have signed before March 31, 2011 have been allowed to take part by the FIH after my meeting with Mr Negre in London and Lausanne. As we had already signed all these players we wanted for the league before that date, it served our practical purposes. But we still are not willing to accept any cut off date," said Thawani.
According to Thawani, the fear of a legal battle in European courts could have swayed the thinking of FIH, which recognises rival body, Hockey India and not IHF, over its stand on allowing the players to take part in the USD three million prize money League.
"FIH will not interfere with players who had signed up with us before March 31, 2011. This I presume is based on legal advice," said Thawani, who added that among the 176 players there are 40 overseas players from top hockey playing nations -- Australia, Spain, England, Germany, Netherlands and Pakistan.
Among the Indian stars, apart from Sardara, Halappa, Prabhjot, Adrian and Sandeep, former captain Rajpal Singh, Diwakar Ram, Bharat Chetri, Dhanjay Mahadik, Shivendra Singh, Roshan Minz, William Xalco and Prabodh Tirkey will also take part in the tournament.
A total of 61 matches, including two semi finals and best-of-three finals, would be played and all eight franchisee outfits would play 14 home and away ties each making it a total of 56 round robin ties.
The round robin phase will take place till January 11, 2012, followed by two semi-finals on January 14 and 15 and the three-match finals on January 18, 20 and 22.
Thawani did not accept that there has been some sort of compromise in slotting the tournament, keeping in mind the players` schedule in international tournaments such as the Champions Trophy in Delhi (prior to the League) and the London Olympic preparatory camp and qualifiers (after the League).
"There was no conflict in the first place so there is no question of compromise," Thawani insisted.