The international hockey federation, FIH, could change the ‘lottery’ system of Olympic qualifiers and revert to the old format of one 12-team competition with six making it to the finals of the quadrennial showpiece. It was in the ‘lottery’ system that India failed to make the grade in Beijing last year, the first time in 80 years.
Just before the Beijing Games, the FIH had introduced a quota system at continental events and three tournaments for those missing the continental route. It led to pedigree teams like India and Argentina missing out while weak outfits like Belgium went through.
FIH president Leandro Negre has announced that the qualifying system may be changed again. “I envision that soon, we will revert to the one-qualifier where 12 teams compete in two groups, and six are selected for the main event,” Negre, while announcing greater powers to the Continental federations, said. He said the new system as “too costly” which “takes up the greater part of FIH’s time”.
“Having qualifiers all around the world and only promoting the gold medallists not only deprives some teams, but is also a waste of time and efforts which could be channeled into better work,” Negre wrote in a Malaysian website.
Negre said in the changed system, even the classification matches will be keenly fought, “and the tournament does not become a side-show once the chance to play in the final is out of sight”. The FIH president also felt it was a prudent decision considering the current economic situation.