The FIH, field hockey’s international governing body, has launched the Hockey Series, a new competition that will provide a pathway for teams to qualify for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo and future Hockey World Cups.
This year’s Hockey Series Open, a series of continental-based events, is open to teams not already signed up to the Hockey Pro League launching in 2019, and involving the top nine national teams in both the men’s and women’s game.
The Hockey Series Open and subsequent Hockey Series Finals will be played in the two years preceding either an Olympics or Hockey World Cup, and culminate with Qualification Events in which the winners will earn a place at the sport’s major competitions.
The forthcoming Hockey Series Open will run from June to September and comprise events in Salamanca in Mexico (men and women), Singapore (men and women), Zagreb in Croatia (men), Wattignies in France (women), Vilnius in Lithuania (women), Gniezno in Poland (men), Lousada in Portugal (men) and Santiago in Chile (men and women), with more to be confirmed.
There will be coverage of this tournaments on the FIH YouTube channel.
A minimum of 15 nations will qualify from the Hockey Series Open for one of three Hockey Series Finals where they will be joined by the top nine nations in the world rankings not playing in the Hockey Pro League.
Each of the finals will involve eight teams and take place at three venues around the world in May and June 2019, with the top two nations from each event earning places at the Olympic Qualification Events.
Those events will also involve the top four nations from the Pro League and the two highest-placed nations in the world rankings not already qualified via the Hockey Series Finals or Pro League.
The Qualification Events will take place in October and November 2019 and comprise six two-legged ties, hosted by the higher-ranked team, on both the men’s and women’s side, with the six winners joining hosts Japan and the five continental champions which automatically qualify, at the Tokyo Olympics.
FIH chief executive Thierry Weil said: “We have been working with a large number of stakeholders for a number of years to create a portfolio of events that help grow the sport at all levels. For emerging nations, the Hockey Series Open will provide a challenging and inspirational environment that will be unlike anything many will have experienced before, while the Hockey Series Finals will be spectacular events featuring many of the world’s best teams.”
“These are hugely important competitions not only in terms of Olympic and World Cup qualification, but also in terms of development. We will be heavily supporting the Hockey Series to ensure our sport remains exciting, engaging and relevant across all levels of the game. Together, the FIH and the global hockey community is working hard to help every hockey-playing nation achieve their potential.”