The FIH today announced details of its brand new World League which will also offer extra qualification routes to the World Cup and Olympic Games with the introduction of the FIH World League.
The competition will make its debut in 2012 with the intention of offering every nation a pathway and a chance to play for a place at the two marquee events in the international calendar.
From these tournaments, they can qualify for the second round where the sides ranked ninth to 16th in the world will be added into the mix.
At the end of Round Two, eight teams will move on to Round Three to join the top eight, elite teams that are automatically qualified. The third round will then be played in two groups of eight.
Finally in 2013, the champion will be crowned in a final round. The number of teams qualified will be determined by if the host made it through the qualification process.
In addition, the World League will qualify four teams directly into the 2014 FIH World Cup in The Hague, Netherlands.
Ireland’s women – as a side ranked between 9th and 16th – will currently receive a bye through to the second round of competition should they maintain their status while the men will contest a first round qualifier. The number of First Round tournaments will depend entirely on the number of entries received by the FIH by April 1.
Speaking about the new concept, FIH Chief Executive Officer Kelly Fairweather said: “We have long wanted to start an international competition that goes over multiple rounds and gives every nation a change to reach our elite events. With the World League, we have just that.
“The World League gives the smaller nations valuable international experience, while allowing them to have the chance to play the role of David against some of the Goliath countries.”
It is expected that the first round of competition will be kept as local as possible to keep travel costs to a minimum.
To this end, FIH will be working closely with its five Continental Federations to organize these tournaments. While the host nations for the first two rounds have yet to be determined, those for Rounds Three and Four were already decided by the FIH Executive Board.
On the men’s side, Pakistan (February 2013) and Germany (June 2013) will host round three tournaments while India is the final venue (September 2013).
For the women, the Netherlands and China are the venues for round three in June 2013 while Argentina has the finals (December 2013).