The FIH recently announced yet another event to the international calendar in line with their 10 year strategy for our sport. I can’t say I immediately felt they were on the right track and I think I’m not alone in this… So I took some time to look at their 10 strategy plan for our game of hockey and again… I can’t say I got really enthusiastic. But more about that in another article soon ;)
So the FIH announce they would cancel the 3rd and 4th round of the Hockey World League and also the Champions Trophy would leave the stage. These will be replaced by a new global “home and away” league for the leading nations whereas the lower ranked nations would still participate in a similar set-up like the existing Hockey World League…
Honestly, why not keep it simple, stupid. KISS remember?
3 major events
There’s room for 3 major global events for national teams, besides the regional/national events for clubs or (commercial) franchise teams. The ranking for these 3 major events is pretty simple as well:
- World Cup
- “Champions Trophy”
The first two need no explanation. The third, the Champions Trophy used to be an invitation-based tournament for the top 6 nations in the world. But when India and Pakistan where no longer among the top nations it started getting complicated because rules had to be bent to keep both Asian powerhouses (needed to continue to be considered a true global sport and remain Olympic) in the loop.
When the FIH a couple of years ago came up with the Hockey Word League, allowing for more nations to aspire playing at the highest level it might have taken me some time to get used to it. But I now think it was a really smart move. Of course the tournament set up and rules were way too complicated and there were too many matches with no real stakes, so there was room for improvement. But the concept and vision behind the HWL were/are good.
Keep HWL & Champions Trophy
So my suggestion has been and is keep the HWL allowing for smaller hockey nations to move up and rebrand it’s 4th and final round to the Champions Trophy. That way you keep the link to the past. The Champions Trophy has been a strong brand, so continue to use it even though the setup behind it has changed. So the HWL would remain as the global qualifier (round 3) for alternating the World Cup and the Olympics and the Champions Trophy would be a top event every two years for the best of the best. KISS….
It will already be difficult enough to get this in a well balanced calendar next to the European national competitions, the European EHL, the Indian HIL and the Australian AHL for example.
No KISS from the FIH though
Unfortunately though, it looks like we will start a new adventure where the top national teams will play home and away games throughout the year. Good luck getting that in a well balanced calendar…
It’s still not clear in detail how all of this wil be organised but at the moment I have a hard time seeing the benefit for example for the top European nations of travelling to Asia or Australia for just the one game. And most likely, in my “humble” opinion most of these games will have a hard time drawing the big crowds because there is no major title at stake, win or loose the tournament will go on for most of the games so what’s at stake really.
Well, we’ll have to wait and see. But I’m sceptical to say the least…