Ireland’s men will have a chance to qualify for the 2023 Hockey World Cup in India following an amendment by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) over the process.
In December, head coach Mark Tumilty had labelled the process a “complete and utter shambles” when it looked like his side would be out of the running without even hitting a ball.
Due to Covid-19’s impact on the international calendar, the FIH has changed the process a number of times with December’s adjustment leading to all seven European tickets on offer set to come via this summer’s continental championships.
At the time, it was unclear from the FIH briefing whether this meant teams from the top tier alone.
That would have left Ireland on the outside due to their relegation from the top tier of European hockey in 2019. As such, Hockey Ireland was among numerous national federations to canvas against this and the FIH relented, creating a new European qualifier event.
This competition will feature the bottom three finishers from June’s “A division” along with the top five from the “B division” which Ireland take part in August. From this eight team tournament, two tickets to the World Cup will be on offer.
Ireland’s men will play in the European B division in the Czech Republic in August.
For Ireland’s women, the move is a mixed blessing. Previously, a top six finish in the Europe’s top tier would have confirmed a place at 2022’s World Cup.
Now, Ireland have two shots at qualification but it is a more complex equation. Now, only a top three finish in Amsterdam in June will absolutely assure a place at the World Cup but, with Spain and the Netherlands hosting jointly, fifth place could suffice.
Only one ticket to the main event will be on offer from the secondary qualifier which will feature three teams from the “A division” and the top five from the second tier.
Elsewhere, the FIH has ramped up its focus on Hockey5s – a five-a-side variant it runs in addition to 11-a-side and indoor hockey – with the introduction of a first senior world level event in September in Lausanne, Switzerland.
The FIH will run a Hockey5s World Cup in 2023 and this September competition is a forerunner to that while plans are in the pipeline to run a Hockey5s World Tour.
The variant is being viewed by some as potentially the FIH’s new option for the Olympic Games where pressure is being put on to reduce the number of participants and the length of the tournament.
Europe’s qualification process for the FIH Hockey Women’s World Cup Spain & Netherlands 2022 and the FIH Odisha Men’s Hockey World Cup India 2023 has been amended:
- For the Men, the 7 European participating teams will be determined as follows:
- The top 5 teams from the EuroHockey Championship 2021 will qualify
- 2 teams will qualify from the European World Cup Qualifying Tournament 2021 (this event will comprise teams ranked 6-8 in the EuroHockey Championship 2021 and teams ranked 1-5 in the EuroHockey Championship II 2021)
- For the Women, beyond both hosts (Spain and the Netherlands), the 4 other participating teams from Europe will be determined as follows:
- The top 3 teams – not including Spain or the Netherlands – from the EuroHockey Championship 2021 will qualify
- 1 team will qualify from the European World Cup Qualifying Tournament 2021 (this event will comprise the 3 lowest ranked teams – not including ESP and NED – in the EuroHockey Championship 2021 as well as the teams ranked 1-5 in the EuroHockey Championship II 2021)