Lack of club culture no issue in India hosting world event: FIH

Ipoh: The lack of club culture in India will not be an issue in the country hosting the World Inter-Club Championships in 2013 as any team like a company, a university or an institution can participate in it, according to International Hockey Federation President Leandro Negre.

Negre acknowledged that club culture was lacking in India as compared to that prevalent in Europe but that was not an issue in allocating the World Inter-Club Championships in the South Asian Country.

"I accept that the club culture in these parts of the World are not the same as we have in Europe, but the concept of a club is broader than it is generally presumed," Negre, who was here in connection with the Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament, said.

"Any company, institution or university, or for that matter any team that plays hockey can be recognised as a club," he said.

Negre said India has agreed to bear the cost of hosting a world clubs event for men and women in 2013.

The inaugural World Inter-Club Championship is likely to be an eight team competition and the FIH is seeking to allocate one major event to India every year.

Negre said that the FIH was also in talks with sponsors to start a top-class domestic professional hockey league in India but made it clear that it will be conducted through its recognised affiliated association.

He said the players in any league, domestic or otherwise, can only be allowed to appear in a league after approval from the FIH and its affiliated national associations.

"We are constantly assessing the situation in India, from where we have several offers for a professional league. We`ll be happy as a league will bring a lot of money to the players, but the FIH alone will give the approval for players," said Negre, who is travelling from Malaysia to India on Sunday to scrutinise the plans for the men`s Champions Trophy to be held in New Delhi in December.

The FIH`s income from the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi has reinforced that India is the biggest revenue earner for the world body. But Negre says the FIH is not in India to make money only.

"I`ve read some criticism that the FIH is in India to make money, but I need to emphasize that this is not true. We are not there to take profits out of India. The World Cup in India was very successful, and we`re looking forward to some more exciting events," he said.

In fact, India has now emerged as favourite tournament venue for the FIH after the successful hosting of the World Cup which had reinforced the country`s status as the biggest audience for hockey and also the main source of revenue.

New Delhi will stage the men`s Champions Trophy in December, which has been expanded to eight teams. Soon after, the country will be the venue for Olympic Qualifiers for men and women, featuring six teams each in both events.

It will be followed by the Junior World Cup -- again both for men and women -- in an Indian city. And the latest is the World Inter-Club Championships, whose inaugural edition the FIH says India has offered to host in 2013.

India has never had it so good in terms of international events, even when it was among the top-ranked nations in international hockey.

In fact, the first time India hosted the World Cup was in 1981-82, and that was the fifth edition of the premier hockey event outside the Olympic Games.

The scenario is quite different now. India was not among the 12 teams in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, which was the first time the country did not play in the Olympic Games in 80 years. India has slumped to as low as the last position in the World Cups, and has failed to reach semifinals of the Asian Games on one occasion.

But the bounty in the form of top-notch international events is coming India`s way, and critics have attributed this to the prospects of the world body making huge profits in the form of sponsorship money.


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