The International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Wednesday launched the Hockey Series, which will act as a qualifying tournament for Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games and future Hockey World Cups.
The tournament is set to replace the Hockey World League that existed for four years. It will be the only qualifying route to the Olympics apart from the Hockey Pro League and the continental events.
For India, who are not part of the HPL, it would be the only way to qualify for the 2020 Olympics if they fail to triumph at the Asian Games.
All FIH National Associations not participating in the Hockey Pro League will be eligible to enter the Hockey Series Open, a FIH media release stated.
Starting with the Hockey Series Open and progressing to the Hockey Series Finals, these events will be played in the two years preceding either an Olympic Games or Hockey World Cup. They will culminate in a series of Olympic or World Cup Qualification Events with the winners guaranteed a place in one of hockey’s pinnacle competitions.
Structure of the Olympic qualification
- A minimum of 15 nations will qualify from the Hockey Series Open for one of three Hockey Series Finals, where they will meet the top nine nations in the FIH Hero World Rankings not playing in the Hockey Pro League.
- Each of the Hockey Series Finals will have eight nations (five from the Hockey Series Open and three who are among the top-nine in the world rankings) playing in them and will take place at three venues across the world between May and June 2019.
- The top two teams from each of the three Hockey Series Finals will then head to the Olympic qualification matches. These six teams will be joined by the four qualifiers from the Hockey Pro League and the two highest placed nations in the world rankings (at the end of the 2019 Continental Championships) not already qualified via the Hockey Series Finals or Pro League.
- The 12 men’s and 12 women’s nations will compete for a total of six spots in the Olympic Games, with the winners joining hosts Japan and the five continental champions who automatically qualify for Tokyo 2020.
- The six Olympic Qualification Events will each feature two nations playing two back-to-back matches, with nations drawn to play each other based on their rankings at the end of the 2019 Continental Championships. The nation who scores the highest aggregate score over the two matches will qualify for the Olympics.
“We have been working with a large number of stakeholders for a number of years to create a portfolio of events that help grow the sport at all levels. For emerging nations, the Hockey Series Open will provide a challenging and inspirational environment,” FIH CEO Thierry Weil said about the new tournament.