FIH Council approves new Global Competition Format

The revamped programme of FIH world level events - proposed by the Global Competition Task Force - was approved in late November by the FIH Council during its meeting in Brussels. The new format will see more teams participating in World level FIH events, the creation of a new tournament - the Champions Challenge - as a feeder to the Champions Trophy, the women's Champions Trophy played every year (instead of every two years), and the establishment of a bi-annual Under-18 Boys and Girls Festival.

The creation of the new format was initially aimed at achieving specific objectives given to the Task force: increasing opportunities for lesser-developed hockey playing countries to compete on the world level; establishing a sensible, balanced and marketable cycle of World Level Major Tournaments and encouraging a wider variety of host countries for FIH events by reducing costs and improving the bidding system. In addition to achieving these goals, the newly adopted programme also provides gender equity and addresses youth development.

The new cycle of events will come into effect from 2001, however, it has been decided that a Women's Champions Trophy be held in 2000.

World Cup

The men's and women's World Cup will continue to be played every four years, but with the number of teams participating increasing to 16 (from 12). The qualification and competition format will also change. Qualification for the World Cup - both men and women - will be based on the following: Hosts, defending champion, Continental Cup Winners (5), between two and four (2-4) from the previous Olympic Games based on ranking, and seven (7) from the World Cup Qualifier.

Previously, the World Cup was played in two pools of six teams in a round-robin format, followed by classification matches. The new format will see:

  • 1st Round - 4 pools of 4 teams playing in a round-robin format
  • 2nd Round - 4 pools of 4 teams; two pools comprised of the top two teams in each pool from the first round, and two pools comprised of the bottom two teams in each pool from the first round.
  • 3rd Round - Cross-pool classification matches, followed by final placing matches (1-16)

The duration of the World Cup will be 13 days, and it should be conducted on two identical fields of play.

World Cup Qualifier

Just as for the World Cup, the number of teams participating in the men's and women's World Cup Qualifiers will increase to 16 (from 12) and the tournament will be played in the same format.

Participants for the World Cup Qualifier will come from the Continental Cups, with the number of teams from each continent determined by a quota system based on the total number of participants in each of the Continental Cups.

A maximum of 50% of the participating teams may be from the same continent (the host's status with relation to this point will be considered on a case-by-case basis).

World Cup Preliminary

The World Cup Preliminary has been eliminated from the FIH calendar in favour of the increased number of participants in the World Cup and World Cup Qualifier, and the addition of the Champions Challenge.

Champions Trophy & the NEW Champions Challenge

The FIH's premier annual men's event, the Champions Trophy, will now also be an annual women's event (currently the women's is played every two years). In addition, a new division - the "Champions Challenge" - has been created to allow for greater participation, and opportunity for promotion to the Champions Trophy.

The qualification criteria for the Champions Trophy will remain the same. In the year following a World Cup or Olympic Games, the six qualifiers are: host, defending champion, World Champion, Olympic Champion and next highest ranked teams - excluding those already qualified - from the World Cup or Olympic Games, whichever is more recent. In the next year, the last placed team will be dropped from the field, but instead of being replaced by the next highest ranked World Cup or Olympic team, it will be replaced by the winner of the Champions Challenge.

The teams qualifying for the Champions Challenge will be the host and the five best ranked World Cup or Olympic teams not already qualified for the Champions Trophy. To start, the Champions Challenge will take place every two years with the winner being promoted to the Champions Trophy.

On a scheduling note, it has also been decided that in a World Cup or an Olympic year, the Champions Trophy will be held prior to the World Cup or Olympic Games, preferably, approximately three months before. It is hoped this will ensure that the highest quality teams will participate in the Champions Trophy.

Junior World Cup

The men's and women's Junior World Cups will continue to be held every four years, but now with a field of 16 teams (previously 12). The Junior World Cup will follow the same format and duration as the Senior event.

The host, defending champion and five Continental Cup winners will be automatic qualifiers with the remainder of the field coming from the Continental Qualifying tournaments (numbers to be determined by a quota system based on the total number of participants in each of the Continental Cups).

A maximum of 50% of the participating teams may be from the same continent, however, this policy will be considered on a case-by-case basis if the host and defending champion are from the same continent.

Under-18 Youth Festival

Also given the stamp of approval by the Council is an Under-18 Boys & Girls Festival to be held every two years. The Indian Hockey Federation has reconfirmed its proposal to host the first Festival and the FIH is now awaiting details on dates, location and other organisational matters.

Financial implications for hosting countries

An essential element of tournament hosting conditions has also been changed, which will result in lower costs for hosts, and it expected, an increase in the number of bidding countries. Host countries are no longer responsible for paying the costs of full board and accommodation for team contingents of 20 people, which for example, has meant covering costs for 120 people at a Champions Trophy (6 teams) and 240 people at a World Cup (12 teams). Participating countries will be responsible for covering their own costs in this respect.

On the other side of the balance sheet, host countries will now be responsible for the travel and full board costs of certain tournament officials, whose costs in the past had been paid for either by their National Associations or by the officials personally. These costs, however, will in all cases be substantially lower than the savings generated for host countries as a result of their no longer having to cover costs for team contingents.

Further information regarding tournament commercial rights can be found in the story on the appointment of Adrien Vanden Eede as FIH Marketing Consultant.