An Irish contingent has signed on for the controversial World Series Hockey according to Yannick Colaco, chief operating officer of Nimbus Sport and main promoter of the tournament.
The tournament will be run by the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and will have 176 internationals from India and 40 players from other countries. Similar to cricket’s Indian Premier League, the tournament features eight city-based teams and will be held from December 15 to January 22.
The players will be allocated to the teams based on a ‘Draft’ system, though, rather than the auction used in the IPL.
“All India internationals have signed on the dotted line. We’re also extremely pleased to confirm the participation of international hockey stars from Australia, Argentina, Spain, Canada, Ireland, Malaysia, Pakistan, New Zealand and South Korea,” he said.
At the launch, eight captains were named. They are Sardara Singh, Adrian D’Souza, Arjun Halappa and Prabhjot Singh of India, Australia’s Brent Livermore, Pakistan’s Rehan Butt, former Spanish captain Rodrigo Garza and Argentinian Lucas Vila.
The competition will have a strong financial backing with $3 million dollars in prize money, a point which backer Harish Thawani, Executive Chairman of Nimbus Communications, makes: “For the first time in hockey, these players will be financially rewarded and will have a global platform to exhibit their skills. The legacy created by the upgrade of hockey infrastructure across the country will benefit the sport of hockey for generations to come.”
The FIH, however, have not held firm in their insistence that they will not back the event as they do not recognise the IHF, one of two rival organisations attempting to run the sport in the country.
In a statement released this afternoon, the FIH explained their stand-point: “The IHF has not been recognised by the FIH since 2000. Instead the FIH recognises Hockey India as the sole national governing body for hockey in India.
“The FIH would like to restate that it has not changed its position on World Series Hockey. It remains an unsanctioned event as per the FIH Statutes and Bye-Laws.”
Suggestions were mooted that the FIH would be in a position to block player’s availability to play for their national sides and, possibly, the 2012 Olympics should they sign up.
In response to this, the statement read: “Regarding player participation in the tournament, athletes that signed contracts with World Series Hockey before March 31, 2011 could, subject to them having no other contractual or national obligations with their respective National Associations, play in the League.”
Finally, the FIH queried the timing of the announcement, especially with a meeting taking place between the Indian government and the Indian Hockey Federation next Monday, July 25.
“The FIH believes that announcements such as those made regarding World Series Hockey are not in the best interest of the sport and will surely not be conducive to finding a long term solution.”