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India to enter FIH Pro League in 2020 (4/17/2019)
--s2h Team
India’s men’s team will join the FIH Pro League a year earlier in a major boost to the novel and ambitious home-and-away event.

FIH CEO Thierry Weil welcomed India’s entry into the Pro League from the 2020 season itself and not 2021 as planned.

“It’s great that India will join the FIH Pro League already next year. There is such a passion for hockey in the country that it will add a lot to our newest competition,” the Frenchman stated from the FIH headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland.

In another major development, the home-and-away format has been tweaked. Teams will host an opponent twice in a couple of days but will play two similarly scheduled encounters away against the same opponent the next year.

The idea behind the modification of the home-and-away structure was to reduce massive travel and a bid to reduce the impact on the environment.

Launched in January this year, the league will continue to be played during the first six months of the year. The changes, approved by the FIH Executive Board after consultations with the national federations involved in the league were posted on the FIH Pro League site on Tuesday.

India had opted out of the Pro League which holds competitions for both men and women.

The FIH Pro League offers a route towards Olympic and World Cup qualification but viewing the women’s chances as bleak, Hockey India declined participation and extended their decision to the men’s team as well.

Nine teams comprise the women’s section and eight the men’s after Pakistan withdrew because of a paucity of finance.

Australia, Argentina, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, New Zealand and Spain form the men’s league.

Australia, Argentina, Belgium, China, Germany, Great Britain, Netherlands, New Zealand and USA make up the women’s field.

A victory fetches three points. Drawn games will bring a point each to the teams concerned with a bonus point for winning the ensuing shootout.

The top four teams book spots in the Olympic qualifiers and play the Pro League semifinals in Amstelveen, Netherlands, in the last week of June.

The final is scheduled for June 30 at the same venue.

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