FIH proposes new competitions, promotes Hockey 5s

FIH has decided to launch two new world-level tournaments and also sought to put an end to the umpiring controversies during the Olympic Qualifiers.

The inaugural edition of the Hockey 5s World Cup will be held in 2023.   -  BSIWARANJAN ROUT

While deciding the hosts for the next men’s and women’s World Cups was top priority for the International Hockey Federation (FIH) in its recent executive board meeting, that was not the only major decision taken.

The meeting last week also saw the FIH deciding to launch two new world-level tournaments and sought to put an end to the umpiring controversies during the Olympic Qualifiers, refusing any changes to the format and reiterating full support to the umpires and officials.

The FIH put its weight behind the Hockey 5s concept – a five-a-side version of the game played on a smaller field which is already part of the Youth Olympics – with the creation of a new world-level tournament for the same. The Hockey 5s World Cup, with its inaugural edition to be played in 2023, would be similar to the marquee event with 16 teams qualifying. The teams would be decided on the basis of continental Hockey 5s tournaments – also a new competition with the detailed structure to be finalised later.

But even before that, the FIH would launch the Intercontinental Cup, starting 2021, as a second-division competition behind the Pro League. More importantly, it would provide an avenue for teams to be part of the Pro league with the two working on a promotion-relegation format starting 2022.

The Intercontinental Cup, the FIH said on Monday, would be an annual, eight-team, single-venue event for the highest-ranked teams not competing in the Pro League with the winner being promoted to the Pro League the following year, replacing the bottom-placed side from the top tier who would be relegated. Like the Pro League, however, it would also be an invitational event with participation based on world rankings.

The new world rankings system was also discussed providing varied ranking points stipulated for all recognised international matches regardless of competition and weekly updating of rankings unlike the present system where rankings are updated at the end of major events. The system is likely to be in place from the beginning of next year.