The executive board of the FIH, field hockey’s world governing body, has approved a series of measures designed to ensure the implementation of a harmonised four-year international calendar.
Establishing a rolling four-year international competition calendar that balances opportunity for all nations to participate, athlete welfare and the commercial realities of international travel is an “absolute necessity,” according to Narinder Batra, the FIH’s president.
A series of recommendations were approved, including:
• “Increasing the importance of continental championships and events;
• “Discontinuing the FIH Series events after 2019, allowing national associations to focus on participation in continental qualifiers and championships;
• “Reviewing the World Cup qualification system with more weight given to continental championship performance
• “Developing an individual match-based world ranking system, with the aim of moving away from the current tournament-based system, so that all international matches are meaningful with world ranking points at stake.”
The FIH added: “The new match-based rankings system has been developed using the results of all international matches over the past three years, and will be run and further improved in the background during 2019, with a target ‘go live’ date of January 2020.”
Meanwhile, the executive board welcomed what it described as the “successful launch” and first two months of competition of its innovative new FIH Pro League competition, a national teams competition for both men and women, occupying the first half of the international calendar each year.
The board said that “all parameters, in particular athlete welfare, are being thoroughly analysed in order to finalise the 2020 match schedule with all stakeholders.”
There have been concerns that the demands placed on athletes in a sport which is still largely amateur will be too onerous. However, Thierry Weil, the FIH’s chief executive, recently told Sportcal Insight in an exclusive interview that the schedule has been drawn up in consultation with national associations and clubs.
He said: “We will never do anything without the agreement of the national associations. We cannot impose such complexity on associations and players without agreement. That would be counter-productive.”
For the full interview, click here.