A franchise-based field hockey league on the lines of the successful Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket will be held in India in December featuring top players, it was announced on Thursday.
The eight-team World Series Hockey, a joint venture of the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and Nimbus Sport, will start on December 15 and feature 176 players, including 40 foreigners from top hockey-playing nations.
Hockey India (HI) and IHF are currently locked in a tussle to run the game in the country, but organisers said the players were cleared to take part in the series following meetings with the sport's world governing body (FIH).
"All those players we have signed before March 31, 2011 have been allowed to take part by FIH after my meeting with (FIH chief) Leandro Negre in London and Lausanne," Press Trust of India news agency quoted Nimbus executive chairman Harish Thawani as saying.
There was no immediate comment from the FIH, which has recognised HI as the parent body and earlier refused permission to hold the tournament.
Among prominent foreign players participating in the 61-match tournament are Australian Brent Livermore, Pakistan's Rehan Butt, former Spain captain Rodrigo Garza and Argentina's Lucas Vila.
The matches will be held in Delhi, Mumbai, Punjab, Bangalore, Chennai and Hyderabad, with two more venues to be announced later.
The IPL revolutionised cricket when it burst onto the scene in 2008 with a high-octane blend of international star players, cheerleaders and Bollywood glamour.