As the build-up for the 2023 FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup, scheduled to be held in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela from January 13 to 29, continues, here is all you need to know about the history of this prolific tournament.
Until 1970, Olympics was the biggest sporting event for hockey. However, due to its growing popularity the conception of a hockey World Cup was suggested by the two Asian powerhouses of hockey at the time- India and Pakistan at an International Hockey Federation (FIH) meeting in 1969.
Pakistan’s then hockey federation chief Air Marshal Nur Khan, who also served as the head of its cricket and squash federations, played a major role in the formulation of this tournament and the Hockey Champions Trophy.
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FIH officially agreed with the plan on October 26, 1969, and at an FIH council meeting in Brussels on April 12, 1970, it was decided that the World Cup was to be held in Pakistan in October 1971. However, due to frequent conflicts between India and Pakistan over the Liberation of Bangladesh, then East Pakistan, FIH decided to shift the tournament to Barcelona, Spain.
How has the Men’s Hockey World Cup format changed over the years?
The World Cup was an invitational tournament until 1975, but qualifications were introduced in 1977 and has followed the tournament format of round-robin stage followed by knockouts and classification matches to determine the positions.
The tournament was initially a biennial event, with the first three editions 1971, 1973 and 1975 held every two years. The 1978 edition in Argentina was held after three years and ever since, the tournament is hosted once every four years.
This edition of the Word Cup was supposed to be held in 2022 but the COVID-19 pandemic played spoilsport. The next edition however, will be held in 2026 in Wavre, Belgium and Amstelveen, Netherlands.
How many teams can participate in the Men’s Hockey World Cup?
While there are no set rules on the number of teams that can participate in the World Cup. The inaugural edition had 10 teams taking part and is the smallest edition till date.
Several editions saw 12 teams competing, excluding the 2002, 2018 and 2023, which consisted of 16 teams.