FIH Pro League 2020: From format to teams, all you need to know about the tournament

Ahead of the all-important Tokyo Olympics this year, the Indian men's hockey team will have an opportunity to play its best squad against the best teams in the world when it makes it debut in the FIH Pro League, on Saturday, 18 January 2020.

FP Sports January 17, 2020 15:43:30 IST
FIH Pro League 2020: From format to teams, all you need to know about the tournament
  • The FIH Pro League will have its second edition this year, where India will make its debut, and will play its first match against the Netherlands at home

  • Each team in the league will play a total of 16 league games, eight at home and the same number of matches away

  • The league stages will be followed by a grand final event, where the top four teams in the competition will compete for the grand prize

Ahead of the all-important Tokyo Olympics this year, the Indian men's hockey team will have an opportunity to play its best squad against the best teams in the world when it makes it debut in the FIH Pro League, on Saturday, 18 January 2020.

India's opening tie will be a double-header at home against the Netherlands, ranked World No 3. The matches will be played at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. It will be a good opportunity for the Indian team led by Manpreet Singh to avenge their 1-2 loss to the Dutch in the quarter-finals of the Hockey World Cup 2018, also played in Bhubaneswar.

Here's all you need to know about the FIH Pro League which features some of the best teams in the world.

What is the FIH Pro League? 

The Pro League is a global competition featuring nine of the world's best hockey teams. The league will be played annually, running from January to July. Each team will play a total of 16 league games — eight at home and eight away, with each tie consisting of two back to back matches at the same venue. At the end of the league stage, the top four teams will qualify for a Grand Final event, consisting of playoff stages, where all matches will be held at a single pre-determined location. The Pro League will feature both men's and women's competitions running concurrently. The rules, format and structure remain the same for both men's and women's leagues.

Which teams are participating?

Argentina, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Great Britain, the Netherlands and New Zealand will be participating in both the men's and women's leagues. The men's leagues will be rounded off by India and Spain, while the USA and China are the remaining two teams in the women's league.

Why was the FIH Pro League started?

The Pro League had its first season in 2019 and replaced the FIH Champions Trophy, the World League semi-finals and finals. The need for the Pro League was felt to enable the fans to enjoy their favourite teams playing against each other for an extended period of time, across different venues, both at home and away. This helps the fans stay connected with the sport for an extended period of time, also taking the game to more people in different venues, rather than an entire tournament being played at just one venue. Moreover, these fans have the chance to be part of the noise and sheer excitement of watching their team regularly in their home country.

How are the home and away ties structured?

The matches will be first played in the southern hemisphere with the northern hemisphere teams travelling to the Southern hemisphere and the Southern hemisphere teams playing against each other. Then the matches will move to the northern hemisphere with the southern hemisphere teams travelling to the northern hemisphere and the northern hemisphere teams playing against each other. Each team will play against every other team in the league at least twice, either at home or away. To elucidate further, India will be playing against the Netherlands, Australia, Belgium and New Zealand at home, but won't be travelling to these countries for away matches. Instead, India will play their away games against Germany, Great Britain, Spain and Argentina.

What does India's schedule in the Pro League look like?

Only the Indian men's team will be participating in the Pro League. India will play a couple of home games against the Netherlands in Bhubaneswar. The two matches will be played on consecutive days at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar, which will play host to all of India's home games.

Following the Dutch, India will host world champions Belgium for two matches on 8-9 February. Australia will then travel to Bhubaneswar and will play a couple of matches against the home team on 22-23 February. Indian will then move to Berlin for a couple of away games against Germany on 25-26 April. The 'Men in Blue' will then travel to Great Britain and will play matches on 2-3 May.

India will return to play at home and host New Zealand on 23-24 May, before moving to Argentina where it will play on 5-6 June. They will play their final two matches in the league stages against Spain, away from home, on 13-14 June.

Where can I watch the FIH Pro League in India?
India's matches in the Pro League will be telecast on the Star Sports Network. Live streaming will be available on Hotstar.

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