The decision to award hosting rights of the men’s hockey World Cup to India for the second consecutive time in 2023 was purely based on merit, world body CEO Thiery Weil said on Tuesday.
The International Hockey Federation chief Weil said that the decision of giving it to India instead of Malaysia completely made sense for the game, considering the financial viability of the sport.
“I am coming from another sport which is football, where whenever we orgainsed an World Cup, we have been extremely criticised to have created white elephants,” Weil said in a tele-conference with Indian journalists from Lausanne.
“So, in that sense I am extremely happy that we as a sport have decided to re-use venue like Bhubaneswar for the second time because there was a lot of effort and investment went in to build this venue, which currently to my knowledge is the best venue we have,” he said.
India will, thus, become the first country to stage four men’s Hockey World Cups after having hosted the showpiece in 1982 (Mumbai), 2010 (New Delhi) and 2018 (Bhubaneswar). The Netherlands has hosted three men’s tournaments.
“The bid was an open one. There were quite a lot of good bidders, including Malaysia. Actually it was decided taking into factor India’s commercial relevance and high financial contribution. FIH needs financial revenues. India did an extremely good job of putting everything on table,” Weil said.
“Some of the countries that bid didn’t have infrastructure and needed huge investments. We made the decisions which make complete sense and completely viable for our sport.”
Weil said FIH needs revenue to keep its flagship event, the Pro League lasting for a long time and India’s introduction in the second edition of the league is seen as a boost.
“Having a country like India in the sport makes a huge difference to be honest because with the size and population of the country and with the hockey lovers in India, it’s definitely a big plus.
“But we know we have to increase hockey around the world, we need to do more development and [for that] we need more revenue and the way to generate revenue is to have a country like India a part of the sport,” he said.
The FIH CEO believed that Pro-League will help them sell the product showcasing best of hockey from top teams.
“It is the mission of the FIH along with participating nations to sell this product and make people understand it’s not just another friendly game but the result of this game can lead a team to be the best team in a year, next to Olympics.”
India will make its debut in the Pro League against the Netherlands at Bhubaneswar in January next year.
The FIH CEO also informed their plans of introducing quite a few changes from the second edition of the Pro League, including abolishing the year-end grand finale and introducing relegation system in future.
“This has been done for two reasons one is to give the national teams 6 to 8 weeks to prepare for the Olympics. But I myself feel there is no better way to prepare than play at the Pro League 6 months ahead of the Olympics,” Weil said.
“We should stick to the league system where at the end of the season the team which has collected most points will win the league.”
He also informed that FIH also plans to introduce relegation system to make the league more exciting.
“And as you know we have now introduced the Intercontinental Cup where the next best 8 teams will play and the winner of that will be promoted to the Pro League,” he added.