Photo credit: Chinese Hockey Association

FIH CEO Thierry Weil: “A magnificent show!”

November 5, 2019

Thierry Weil, how did you experience these FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers?

It was a magnificent show! On behalf of FIH, I would like to congratulate all teams who have qualified for next year’s Olympic Games and thank all teams involved in these FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers for having offered to all fans such great hockey over the last two consecutive weekends.
If some people not familiar with our sport have been viewing these events either on TV or on or in the stadiums, they’ve surely seen how exciting hockey is.

Do you have specific moments in mind?

It’s difficult to select a few among so many … The first qualification of the Irish Women’s team for the Olympic Games in an incredible atmosphere at the Energia Park, a rugby stadium where a portable hockey pitch was installed, proving that this concept is a really good one for the promotion of hockey; the Dutch fans warmly congratulating the Pakistani players for having displayed such a great performance in the first leg; the numerous fans turning up for these “do-or-die” matches; the intensity of these games with many come-backs, such as USA in India or China vs Belgium, etc …

There was also an umpiring decision during the second leg of the Canada–Ireland Men’s qualifiers which generated much debate. What are your comments on that?

While anyone is of course entitled to disagree with an umpiring decision, numerous reactions after this match have gone far off the values of hockey. In order to avoid any disturbances for teams and umpires in their preparations ahead of the second week-end of qualifiers, FIH has not made any proactive statement on the matter (but responded to requests received). Let’s now outline a couple of points:

  • Hockey has been one of the first sport to introduce video technology to assist umpiring and is widely recognized as a leader in this field
  • The technology and process used for video umpiring at these qualifiers were all in line with the FIH provisions on video umpiring established since many years and applied correctly
  • For FIH events, a minimum of 4 camera angles are required in order to have a video umpire referral process in place. For the FIH Hockey Olympic qualifiers however, this number was raised to a minimum of 6 cameras
  • Video umpires have access to camera angles which may not always be on the live broadcast
  • The umpires selected for these qualifiers all belong to the best panel of FIH umpires, where a continuous evaluation is made

Should umpires be more supported?

Umpires are volunteers, who spend a huge part of their free-time for the sport they love and to enable athletes to play the sport they love. They follow courses organized by all National Associations, Continental Federations and FIH. They train hard to keep improving. They often have tough decisions to take. Therefore, while emotions are understandable due to what is at stake in sport sometimes, umpires need the support and respect of everyone, in line with the values which depict our sport. This is fundamental. Not only do they deserve that, but that is also a prerequisite to give them the level of self-confidence needed to fulfil their mission.

When will you confirm the pools for the Tokyo 2020 hockey tournaments?

The final participation in the Olympic Games for any team must be approved and confirmed beforehand by their respective National Olympic Committee (NOC). Therefore, FIH has now contacted all qualified teams and their NOCs to request them to confirm their participation. Once we will have received all these confirmations, we will be able to release the pools.

How will the pools be determined?

The pattern is the same as for the last Games in Rio (see:  - Appendix 2). The pools are determined by the FIH World Rankings.

When will you announce the match schedule?

The match schedule will be announced around mid-December.


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