The International Hockey Federation (FIH) confirmed today the teams that will participate in a new unique global international team-sport league – the Hockey Pro League.
The new league, which is due to launch in January 2019, will see the nine best men’s and women’s teams from around the world play each other both at home and away every year, across a total of 144 one-off matches. The fixtures will take place in national stadiums, week in, week out, from January to June.
The women’s event will be contested between Argentina, Australia, China, England/Great Britain, Germany, India, Netherlands, New Zealand and USA. The men’s teams were confirmed as Argentina, Australia, Belgium, England/Great Britain, Germany, India, Netherlands, New Zealand and Pakistan, the latter playing their home matches in Scotland.
The announcement follows an extremely competitive candidate evaluation process which saw 13 men’s and 12 women’s applications submitted by National Associations. Teams that did not make the final selection for the men’s League were Ireland, Malaysia and Spain, whilst those not chosen for the women’s League were Belgium, Ireland, Italy, Japan and Spain women.
The confirmation of teams follows approval from the FIH Executive Board. Their decision was based on recommendations from the FIH Event Portfolio Implementation Panel (EPIP) who were tasked with assessing each of the candidate applications against defined participation criteria.
The name was selected as it captured the entertainment-focused nature of the League. Using the word ‘Pro’, this highly positive and upbeat message indicates it will feature the very best in the sport – ‘the pros’. It is also indicative of the increased professionalism that fans will start to see coming into the League.
Speaking about this news, FIH CEO Jason McCracken said: “We are delighted to announce the official name and teams who will participate in this game-changing new competition. Whilst World Tours and single venue International Leagues are played regularly, this is arguably the first of its kind, with national teams playing one-off matches both home and away in venues across the world over six months each year. The Hockey Pro League has been four years in the making and follows an excessive consultation and evaluation process.”
He continued: “We strongly believe that this new competition will fuel the growth of our sport for many years to come, significantly increasing revenues for hockey. As a result it will become a professional sport, making it a career choice for athletes who will be given the opportunity to perform in big, bold, packed and loud venues both in their homeland and overseas. It will also allow fans to engage with more world-class hockey more often, whether on TV or live at their national venue. We now look forward to working on delivering a truly exceptional League whilst also ensuring we raise the standard and profile of our other international competitions across all levels of the sport.”
FIH President, Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra added: “The Hockey Pro League represents the first major milestone for the Hockey Revolution. It embodies everything our 10-year strategy aims to achieve – making hockey a global game that inspires the next generation. Whilst only nine teams have been selected for each League, the quality of information and enthusiasm shown by those who missed out indicate that our sport is developing in an extremely positive way, which clearly shows that hockey has an exciting future ahead.”