The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has in principle agreed to work out an appropriate window to revive the franchise-based Hockey India League, which was discontinued to make way for the FIH Pro League which was being held from January to June.
The FIH has received a communication from Hockey India, via its newly-elected president Dilip Tirkey, seeking a suitable window to restart the Hockey India League, which had in its short life emerged as the top league in the world, introducing innovations like the four-quarter format and video referral system, that were later introduced in international hockey.
“We received a communication from Hockey India about Hockey India League and it is really good. I have always felt that Hockey India League is really good and Hockey India should always have it back. They have asked us to look into the calendar for a proper window for it. We will have a look into it and discuss with Hockey India how they can organize it. At the end of it, the final decision will be with Hockey India,” said FIH CEO Thierry Weil during an online interaction with the media on Friday.
Starting in 2012, Hockey India conducted the Hockey India League till 2018 before discontinuing it without giving any reasons. One of the reasons that were reported at that time was the FIH’s desire to start the home-and-away Pro League in the first half of the year, leaving the second half for the European club leagues. However, Hockey India did not find the Pro League feasible and missed the first two editions. With its officials harbouring ambitions of ruling the international federation, Hockey India did not revive the HIL and then joined the pro League for the third edition in 2012-22.
There has been a regular demand from the Indian players to revive the HIL as they credit it for reducing their inhibition of playing against foreign players and gaining exposure, experience, and confidence to play modern hockey, eventually helping the national men’s team win the bronze medal in the Tokyo Olympics.
However, with the Indian men’s team figuring in the Pro League after finishing third in the last season, hosting the HIL with international players in the second half looks unfeasible because of a clash with European domestic leagues.
Thierry Weil said they would also like Hockey India to start a HIL-type league for women players too.