India to host world club championships in Dec: FIH chief

India to host world club championships in Dec: FIH chief

International Hockey Federation (FIH) chief Leandro Negre told reporters today that an Indian sponsor has been finalised and the ambitious plan, aimed at lifting the profile of hockey in India, would be announced in the next few days though the venue is yet to be decided.

"India is an important component of world hockey. We want prosperity of hockey in India and that is why we have decided that a world club championship, featuring eight teams, will start in India, may be in December this year," Negre said.

"Since the sponsor of the tournament is an Indian company, we have decided to host the annual event in India for the first five years. We will see after that whether it can be held in other countries. We have not yet decided on the name of the competition. It may be World Club Championships, but it will be decided after consulting the sponsor," the Spaniard said without naming the sponsor.

The tournament will have eight teams competing, one each from the five continents other than Asia and three wild cards. A team from Pakistan will be invited as wild card (as India will represent Asia). It will be played on a knock-out basis and completed on three days.

"India will be automatically there as host and the other teams will be the champions of four continents, excluding Asia. Out of three wild cards, we want a team from Pakistan.
"The tournament will be played on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. It will have four quarterfinals, two semifinals and the final," Negre said.

He said the FIH wants India to restart the Premier League Hockey for its winner to represent India in the world club championships.

"Africa has a club competition and there is pan-American club tournament. Australia (continent) has some problems but they will decide who will take part. We want Hockey India to restart Premier Hockey League and its winner to represent India in the world club championships," he said.

He also said that the PHL should be played in different centres of the country and most of the players of each team should be from the region where it is based.

"First of all I want a full-fledged Hockey India with a good leader. Then I want the PHL to restart and it be played in different regions with most of players from the region where it is based. For example, a Mumbai team should have at least eight players from that region or province. Four or five players can be form outside the region," he said.

Negre said India would be able to host the championships despite a tight schedule. India will have to form a full-fledged Hockey India and then also to hold PHL and the Commonwealth Games.

Negre also apologised for the hiccups in the run-up to the World Cup but expressed happiness that the show has started today.

"I know there were problems before the World Cup, I apologised for that. From the part of FIH we are doing our best. I am happy that the tournament has started well. I feel we had chosen India as the right venue for the World Cup," he said.

Reminded about the problems faced by the journalists on the opening day today, Negre said, "Even I was not allowed to enter the stadium for a while yesterday, so there were problems and I think it will get better as the tournament is in progress. I am happy that the World Cup has started," he added.

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