IPL-style hockey tournament from 2013 in India?

Inspired by the huge success of IPL, the International Hockey Federation is mulling on launching a franchise-based professional league in India in collaboration with Hockey India from 2013.

Updated: May 11, 2011 18:05 IST
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New Delhi: Inspired by the huge success of IPL, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) is mulling on launching a franchise-based professional league in India in collaboration with Hockey India from 2013.

With the success of last year's World Cup and the Commonwealth Games here, the world body also initiated a "FIH Project Chake De" in India, which will witness the country playing host to five major international hockey events from 2011 to 2014.

India has been given hosting rights of the Champions Trophy (December 3-11), men's and women's Olympic Qualifiers (February 12-26, 2012), men's and women's World Junior World Cups in 2013, men's World League Finals in 2013 and the women's Champions Trophy in 2014.

"We will be holding a World Club Championships in 2013 which will be an annual event," FIH president Leandro Negre told reporters here.

"Together with Hockey India, the FIH will organise a professional league in India and the champions of that league will participate in the World Club Championships," he said.

Negre, however, clarified that the proposed professional league is still under discussion and the FIH was working very closely with all its member associations in creating an international window for the event.

"The timing is important and it has to be between January and February. It will be held only after the London Olympics. But we need to find a window (for the tournament), a good moment of the year," the FIH chief insisted.

"From 2013, the professional league and the World Club Championships will be held every year. In the coming four years, India will be the hub of world hockey."

The FIH is also set to organise a new event - World League from next year, the finals of which will be held in India in 2013.

"We have recently changed out competition structure. In 2012 we are going to start a World League," Negre said.

According to proposed FIH plans, approximately 58 men's and 50 women's international teams will first play in regional qualifiers to earn a place in the eight-team World League Finals to be held in India in 2013.

The proposed World League could be a qualifying event for the future World Cups and Olympics.

Indian Hockey Federation, which is not being recognised by the FIH, and Indian television company Nimbus had already announced a multi-million-dollar World Series of Hockey (WSH) to start in November or December this year.

But Negre reiterated that FIH does not recognise any unauthorised tournaments and will work only with HI for the development of the game in India.

"FIH will always work with HI in India. HI is the sole democratically elected body to run hockey in India. We don't recognise IHF. For us IHF is a thing of the past," Negre said.

Negre also said that he was deeply hurt by some reports that FIH was only interested in earning money from India.

"I was very upset when I read reports that FIH is taking profits out of India but this not true. It is a personal investment of FIH because we need strong teams like India and Pakistan back among top teams," he said.

FIH chief executive officer Kelly Fairweather, meanwhile, said that unlike IPL, there will be a specified window for the proposed professional league of India in the world body's tournament calendar.

"There will be a 6-week window for the professional league because we don't want a clash of dates with other tournaments. We are in talks with all our national federations and players and all seemed excited about the tournament," he said.

He, however, said that all the modalities about the professional league will be finalised in FIH's executive board meeting next month in Montreux, Switzerland.

"We are looking at the concept in detail. We need to develop timeline and milestones so that when we launch this tournament it turns out to be a big success," Fairweather said.

Asked whether the FIH's plan was too ambitious, the CEO said, "We have to be ambitious. Today, we are not ready but in a year's time we will be ready.

"Our intention is to work closely with HI in this process. We don't have any intention to stumble upon any long-drawn legal battle. We need to work step by step."

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