Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why I think FIH's World League is a failure before its lift off?


So FIH is back with another gem from its treasure chest and this one is known as FIH World League. From the year 2012 all FIH member countries, who want to participate in World Cup will play matches in bid to qualify for the World Cup or the Olympics.
Apparently, this move will give opportunities to the minnows to qualify for the World Cup or Olympics. Top four teams from the FIH League will qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Hague (Netherlands). The tournament will have four rounds, two which will be played in the year 2012 and two in 2013. FIH has sent invitations to all the members’ countries and asked them to confirm their participation. Top 16 teams as per international rankings are given byes according to their ranking. Top 8 teams are gives byes to the third round, while 9-16 have been given byes to second round.
First thing that struck my mind after looking at the World League format is the time period. 2 years. Seriously? Who is going to wait for two years and watch the teams qualify and play? Hockey does not have world audience, and this move is not going to help the cause. Who would want to see the likes of Fiji and Papua New Guinea (last two teams in FIH rankings) compete for the Olympics? And to add to that, 2 years to just qualify for the World Cup (its hockey not football). As per the current system, qualification of hockey is based on the continental system. 9 teams from 5 continents (4 from Europe, and 1 each from Asia, Africa, Oceania and PAN America) plus 3 teams through qualification tournaments and 1 host country. FIH is not going to change this system of qualification, so it means FIH will have to increase 4 spots in the World Cup. But can the teams beyond top 16 think of qualification.
FIH says that it has been their ambition to give every country a chance to make it to highest possible level. For most of the teams it will be 2nd round. There is a vast difference in the playing standard of top 10 countries compared to the rest. Well, it will not be wrong if we say, there is also a big difference between top 3 countries and the rest. So the minnows can forget about reaching the World Cup or the Olympics. There are only 3-4 teams which can stand and compete against current World Champion Australia. There is no way that the minnows can defeat top 5 teams even if top teams play with their developmental squads.
The two points stated above do not help the World League or as a matter of fact hockey in any way. Also it does not help the cause of viewership among the fans. It is a well known fact that hockey has lost its viewership to a great extent especially in India, where more popular sports like cricket and football have taken centre stage and this event is not going to help the cause of improving viewership. Which broadcasting agency is going to showcase the games especially in the 1st and 2nd rounds? The only stages where this event might be shown live are the 3rd and the 4th stage. The probability of showing game live in 3rd stage is very less.
Above three points are tell very clearly that FIH has not given much thought about this World League (I think I am saying too much on this) and has come out with this plan to make the member countries believe that they care about hockey. I think it is high time for FIH to think about what it has done to promote hockey and start taking better steps for its promotion.

(FIH logo above has been taken from google images and I do not own it)

2 comments:

  1. FIH should balantly stop siding with HI and rather work with Sports ministry to have IHF HI issue sorted out. WSH is such a golden chance for hockey to regain its popularity in Sub Continent. Remember if Indians pick the game and like it, they are all over the world and will watch it. Hockey is not Cricket such that foreigners will find it difficult to understand. Rather this whole activity will help spread Hockey all over the world. LET WSH BE A STARTER. DON"T INTERFERE

    But why would FIH want WSH to gain prominence. It would mean more money coming from India and Europe loosing its influence. Like Cricket where BCCI rules the roost, IHF would do so in Hockey

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  2. You have nailed the problem, if IHF with its WSH start calling the shots, who will ask FIH? FIH will just be another body with no powers, and will be unable to make the game more tough for sub continent countries (ex: introduction of astro-turf due to European countries, India was poor and could not buy them, disallowed rushing in line, which was India's biggest strength against penalty corners. etc)

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