FIH confirm format changes for 2018 World Cup and launch home and away league application process

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has confirmed the format for the 2018 World Cups when the competition increases in size from 12 to 16 teams.

The World Cup will feature four groups of four with the winner of each pool going straight through to the quarter-finals. Last place in each pool will be eliminated while there will be crossover matches between second and third in each pool to determine the other four quarter-final places.

This format will remain in place for the 2022 World Cup, too. They will be 16-day competitions which encompass three weekends.

Ireland's women start their World Cup qualifying campaign in January. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Ireland’s women start their World Cup qualifying campaign in January. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Irish women’s coach Graham Shaw is pleased with the format which gives more sides the chance to make an impact in the competition.

“For the World Cup, I think it’s a no-brainer,” he told The Hook. “The Olympic Games is very elite with 12 and this opens it up a bit more to get 16 teams in. It also looks like you will get a bit more of an opportunity to get out of the group.

“I was worried that you could only play three games and that would be our World Cup over but a top three ensures you have that extra chance and it will be exciting to see how that all pans out.”

Shaw’s team begin their bid for a World Cup place at World League Round 2 in Malaysia in January where a top two finish will earn a place in Round 3 where the World Cup tickets will be primarily decided.

Another key decision was taken that to make all international hockey matches four quarters of 15 minutes in length. This comes into effect on January 1, 2017.

In the past year, elite level matches were played in this format while some lower level of international games were played in the two halves of 35 minutes format.

Again, Shaw is in favour of the confirmation of this change after a couple of years of different formats.

“The timings and format is right. From a coaching point of view, it’s a lot better having it in four quarters and you can have more impact on the game than 35 minute halves.

“You can give that bit of information on what you are seeing which really helps during the game. It also keeps the level of speed and intensity and aggression that we want to play the game at across the world. It adds to the entertainment and also to the television. It’s a good move.”

Elsewhere, the FIH launched its application process for their “game-changing” global home and awat league which is due to begin in January 2019.

Application documents have been sent to the top 16 men’s and 16 women’s hockey nations listed in the world rankings – including Ireland – from which between seven and nine teams will be selected for each league which will run from January to June each year.

Ireland's men and women have been invited to apply to play in the new home and away league in 2019. Pic: Adrian Boehm

Ireland’s men and women have been invited to apply to play in the new home and away league in 2019. Pic: Adrian Boehm

The FIH will look to announce the entrants for the leagues in June 2017. The top teams have now received a clearly defined set of participation criteria which they will be evaluated against.

The criteria have been developed around meeting the three main objectives of the new event portfolio – to generate a massive change in TV and media coverage for hockey; create big, bold, packed and loud events and make a step change to increase future revenues for the sport.

National Associations will be required to submit extensive information in order to be eligible, with sustainability the key aspect of the league’s long-term vision.

Speaking about this launch, FIH Acting CEO David Luckes said: “This is the first step towards the implementation of our game-changing new event portfolio. It’s been designed to provide a regular calendar of must‐see events played in packed stadia across the world throughout the year and will therefore completely change the landscape of international hockey.”

He continued: “This is the start of an extensive consultation process which will ensure the quality and sustainability of these leagues. Over the coming months we will be helping all of these nations with the application process and look forward to announcing the teams as the next step in the summer of 2017.”

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