Hockey is stronger with India in it: FIH CEO

Hockey is stronger with India in it: FIH CEO

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) received a bolt from the blue when India announced this July that they are pulling out from the ambitious Hockey Pro League.

The Pro League, scheduled to kick off in 2019 featuring the top nations who will engage themselves in home and away battles before culminating in a grand finale, is being conceived in a bid to keep the calendar busy and attract more fans. The Pro League will also be replacing the ongoing World League Final and the marquee Champions Trophy. However, India, the cash cows of the sport, opted out citing lack of clarity.

FIH CEO Jason McCracken, addressing the media on Saturday evening, said the door is open for India in case they change their mind. "FIH would be absolutely delighted to have India as part of the Pro League. In the future, when the time is right, I hope they will be joining us. Because hockey is stronger when India is there. We are always talking to them and the door is open. When the time is right we will welcome Hockey India into the Pro League. The door is open now. There are some challenges with respect to our schedule. There are 144 matches all over the world. We may have to adjust the schedule."

Kiwi McCracken, who replaced Kelly Fairweather last October, rubbished questions over confusion in the constantly changing hockey calendar. "Next year is going to be a transition year. We have the Indoor World Cup at the beginning followed by the two outdoor World Cups (men and women). We have the two Champions Trophies as well as the Youth Olympic Games in Argentina. So it's a big year for hockey. Then of course in 2019 we have another transition when we will see the beginning of the Pro League. We will also see the replacement of this event (World League Semifinal and Final) which will become Hockey Series. That begins next year and the Hockey Series Finals will be in 2019. It is agreed and set."

India are going to host the World Cup at the same time next year where Pakistan have qualified. Pakistan couldn't compete in the Junior World Cup at Lucknow last year due to visa issues while players from across the border have been unable to take part in various leagues owing to diplomatic tensions. McCracken said Pakistan shouldn't have any trouble travelling here for the showpiece event.

"We are delighted that Pakistan has qualified. It is a fantastic rivalry between India and Pakistan. We have to make sure they get their visas on time and they have to do all the correct things by their government and by the Indian government. Pakistan has been invited and we look forward to seeing them."

 

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