Nishad Vellur/Zeenews Sports Bureau
New Delhi: Seen as a major step towards popularizing the game, FIH on Wednesday announced the introduction of FIH World League, the final of which will be held in India in February 2014.
World League will be played every 2 years. Starting with the World Cup 2014, the tournament will be used as qualifying tournaments for Olympics and World Cups. From 2014, Olympics and World Cup spots will be filled by one host country (subject to IOC agreement for Olympics), five places for continental champions and six or seven team from World League.
The league, for both men and women, will start soon after the Olympics this year. Women’s final will be played in December 2013 in Argentina, FIH president Leandro Negre announced in a press conference held on the sidelines of the Olympic hockey qualifiers in New Delhi.
Since the league will replace the existing qualifying tournaments, the teams playing in the league will carry ranking points from 2014.
Besides, the FIH will chalk out a planned scheduled on the line of cricket’s Future Teams Programme. “We have a planned schedule till the 2014 World Cup, and in our next Congress we will discuss on the 2014-2018 calendar. It would be based on our two pillars—the World Cup and the Olympics. This is a work in progress and the goal is to have hockey played continuously. And every alternate year we would have the Champions Trophy. The thing is we have to squeeze in tournaments like your Asian Games, the Champions Challenge and Sultan Azlan Shah. We haven’t yet finalized on it, but it certainly is top on our agenda,” explained FIH CEO Kelly Fairweather.
On the rebel World Series Hockey and the continuing rift between Hockey India and Indian Hockey Federation, said Negre: “The FIH has made its stand clear (regarding WSH), and now it is for the national body to make a decision, which I’m sure they will arrive upon shortly. As far as players, officials and umpires are concerned, they are free to make their decision. In the IHF issue, we have to remain patient.