The Hockey World Cup was born amidst violence when two of its superpowers — India and Pakistan — were on the verge war in 1971. Ironically, it is violence in the form of terrorism that is the main concern 10 days before the start of the 12th edition in New Delhi.
While teams gear up for the quadrennial event, officials are putting in place foolproof security for the event involving 12 teams, including India.
The idea to hold the World Cup in the years between two summer Olympic Games was proposed in 1969 by India and Pakistan.
It was because of their initiative that the international hockey federation (FIH) approved the concept on October 26, 1969 and formally adopted it on April 12, 1970.
Pakistan was awarded the first edition in 1971 but the event was shifted to Barcelona, because of the country's opposition to India's participation in the event.
On the field, Pakistan registered its supremacy, winning the title by beating Spain 1-0.
Ten more World Cups have been organised since, with Pakistan emerging the most successful country, winning the tournament four times.
The Netherlands have won it thrice and Germany twice. India won their one and only title in 1975 and have since failed to reach even the semifinals. The rise of the World Cup has unfortunately coincided with the slump in standard of Indian hockey, which touched its nadir in the 1986 World Cup in England when it finished last among 12 teams.
As the eight-time Olympic gold-medallists gear up to host their second World Cup, the event has reached a stage where people feel the need for a change in the qualification system in order to open the event to more teams.
Increasing the number of teams in the competition is the way forward, says Olympian and former India coach Joaquim Carvalho.
“Maybe we can have a competition involving 24 teams divided into four pools. There will be more opportunity for promoting and marketing the game, which will help improve the standard. From quantity, we get quality.”
“With just 12 teams, it is not serving the purpose and we hardly see new talent coming out from the World Cup,” says Carvalho.
He does have a point as the continental system ensures the same 12 teams coming back again and again.
Also teams with same strength in the continent miss out, while a weaker team from other continent makes it, thus affecting the overall standard.