The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has announced the formation of a new World League,which will double up as the qualifiers for both the Olympics and the World Cup,starting 2014. FIH president Leandro Negre said that the new league will begin in September 2012,after the London Olympics,and the first edition will culminate in February 2014 in India. The event will be held every two years,in line with the World Cup or the Olympics.
The competition,which will see 80 mens and 58 womens team in action,will be played over four rounds. While the top-eight teams get a bye into Round 3 (two tournaments of eight teams each,including hosts),teams ranked 9-16,which includes India,will get direct entry into Round 2 (four tournaments of six teams each including hosts). The remaining teams will play from Round 1 onwards,with 12 qualifying for Round 2. The final round will have eight teams,including the hosts,and 6 or 7 of them will qualify for the WC/Olympics that year,along with the five continental champions and the hosts.
While the League will take final shape only after the FIH executive board meeting at the end of March,the proposed format means India simply have to finish among the top 6 or 7 at the end of the league in 2014 to qualify for the World Cup. Thereafter the side only needs to remain in the top eight to retain chances of being at the WC or the Olympics. Given that India are currently ranked 10th,despite missing out on the 2008 Olympics and the Champions Trophy last year the two big FIH ranking events that seems a reasonable possibility. And consistent participation in the big-ranking events will ensure India remain among the top eight.