The current unstable situation in Pakistan has forced the FIH to move the Samsung Men’s’ Champions Trophy Tournament from Lahore, Pakistan to Bukit Jailli in Malaysia. The move came after Australia and Spain pulled out of the competition while Germany, Korea and Netherlands were ‘unable to confirm their entry’.
Reserve countries England and Japan also declined the invitation. With six of the best eight hockey teams not participating in the Samsung Champions Trophy, one of the most important hockey tournaments in the world, the FIH had no option but to move the event.
The decision was taken amid concerns about the safety and security of the participating teams and the negative travel advice received from the foreign affairs departments of many of the prospective participants.
Malaysia stepped in after the FIH decided that it was impossible to play in Pakistan. With Malaysia as new host, the Samsung Champions Trophy 2007 will be expanded to eight teams and the tournament will be played as a 1-pool competition. The six original participants Australia, Germany, Korea, Netherlands, Pakistan and Spain will be joined by the host Malaysia and Great Britain.
FIH President Els van Breda Vriesman said “This is a fair and just outcome taking all factors into account and ensures the top teams in the world will be able to utilize the tournament as part of their preparations for the Beijing Olympic Games.”
For Pakistan, who invented the tournament, this a further blow to their influence on the tournament. The Champions Trophy was initially supposed to be played in Pakistan every second year. This was reduced to every third year and this latest development will see an even longer period away from the tournament’s spiritual home.
It is unclear at this point how international ranking points will be allocated under the expansion. The tournament begins on November 29th and runs until December 9th.