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Hockey India explains decision to withdraw from FIH Pro League

The ambitious FIH Pro League, set to kick-start in 2019, will only give the top-four teams in both men’s and women’s a chance to compete in the Olympic qualifiers, a Hockey India official

other sports Updated: Jul 09, 2017 16:54 IST
Press Trust of India
Press Trust of India
PTI, New Delhi
Hockey India,International Hockey Federation,FIH
Hockey India recently withdrew from the FIH Pro League.(Getty Images)

Explaining their pullout from the International Hockey Federation’s Pro League, Hockey India (HI) today said the event does not offer direct qualification to the Olympics and would have been detrimental to the chances of its women’s team.

The ambitious Pro League, set to kick-start in 2019, will only give the top-four teams in both men’s and women’s a chance to compete in the Olympic qualifiers, an HI official has claimed.

While the Indian men’s team’s chances are bright, the eves, currently placed 13th in the world ranking, would have found it tough to finish in the top four.

The HI official said instead of the Pro League, both the men’s and women’s teams have better chances of making the Olympic qualifiers through World League Round 1 and Round 2 which will continue to co-exist with the Pro League from 2019.

READ | Hockey Pro League: India’s pullout hints at friction with world body

“Let us make it clear that the Pro League will not give direct berths to top four teams in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. It will only give the top four teams a chance to play in the Olympic qualifiers.

“Our women’s team has no chance of qualifying in the top four, so we decided to pull out from the event,” the top HI official told PTI.

“We have a better chance through the World League Round 1 and 2 so why to go the other way. Every nation had a chance to withdraw before July 17 failing which the FIH has the authority to impose a 2 year sanction and penalty. So we decided to communicate our decision to them early,” he said.

The Pro League is the newest competition in the FIH calendar and is due to be launched in January 2019. The top nine men’s and women’s international teams will play each other on a home-and-away basis every weekend for six months from January to June.

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The top four teams at the end of the league will get a chance to play in the Olympic qualifiers for the Tokyo Games.

HI has also cited lack of clarity in the ranking system for the new league and alleged that the world body has an apparent bias towards European sides.

“We definitely were one of the strong supporters of the Pro League and vouched for it, but it seems the FIH is only interested in giving importance to the European teams. Till date, the FIH is yet to declare the ranking points system as it has not been approved,” he said.

Although the men were better-placed to qualify through the Pro League, Hockey India said it had to withdraw both the teams as neglecting the women’s team was not in line with the national federation’s policy.

Incidentally the FIH right now is being headed by an Indian, Narinder Batra, and the pullout can also be looked upon as a ploy by Hockey India to pressurise the world body to change its complex World Cup and Olympic qualification process.

First Published: Jul 09, 2017 15:48 IST