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‘Hockey World Cup must remain priority over Olympics’

World beaters: The Kookaburras won the 2010 Hockey World Cup

By Richard Bright

The World Cup must remain the pinnacle of the sport over the Olympics and the looming FIH Pro League, says world hockey chief Thierry Weil.

In his first interview since taking over the helm of the International Hockey Federation in March, Weil also said that coming from a non-hockey background – he was previously at soccer governing body Fifa – meant that his “crazy ideas” would “fit in” with the FIH’s self-billed Hockey Revolution, a term outlined when announcing its 10-year strategy for the sport in 2014.

“The term ‘revolution’ means dramatic change, so for me, as an outsider, a revolution within the sport is an exciting prospect but it’s not easy to implement because the passion for the sport makes it difficult to introduce too much radical change,” he told the FIH.

“The Hockey Revolution is an ambitious mission but it opens a lot of possibilities in view of new initiatives and different approaches.”

Weil, a Frenchman, suggested that he could also ask “stupid questions” in regards to offering new ideas in raising the value of the sport.

“They are the questions that those within the sport would never dream of asking,” he added. “It means I can have conversations that at least will open people’s minds to new ideas.”

With 35 years behind him as an executive, more recently with Fifa, Weil is adamant that the World Cup is where the sport must focus its attention to gain the most value.

He said: “I see the World Cup as the pinnacle. It is the biggest event. The Olympics is also big but the World Cup is an FIH event and so must be the top. And it has so much commercial value – two World Cup events in a year is great commercially as well as for the sport’s profile.”

The FIH also stated that over the next 18 months it will invest “more than ever in its dynamic broadcast and content strategy” with the aim of raising the quality of coverage.

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