By Richard Bright
World hockey’s chief admitted that the sport he oversees is “not so cool” as it looks to appeal to a wider audience – especially sports beginning to become an attraction for Olympic inclusion.
Despite hockey becoming a better visual product on TV, with the blue surface and high-definition cameras, the product it is still seen as an old school sport compared to news flashier events such as rock climbing. Yet, the sport can still aim to appeal to the younger market with its plentiful trick videos and the quick passing game of the shorter version.
“You have sports knocking on the door which are being considered as cool sports and our sport is not so cool,” Thierry Weil, the FIH chief executive, told Reuters in an interview. “So you have to be on top of your sport and not taking things for granted.”
Weil admitted that one idea he would like to trial is putting a light inside the hockey ball which would glow and then turn off when the match had finished. Using light at sports events has been beneficial for another Olympic sport, fencing, in raising entertainment values.
In a wide-ranging interview, the VAR conversation was always on the cards and Weil said that football should make a concerted effort to listen to how other sports, including hockey, use the video review system.
“In effect, it means that in the first half, nobody asks for the video umpire. You don’t joke around because you know if you are wrong, you penalise the team for the rest of the game,” Weil added. “Sometimes football should listen to what other sports do, and not only hockey,” Weil,
Weil also noted that the FIH would aim to end using water cannons on artificial pitches by 2024. Although this would likely cause problems given that hundreds of clubs still use the procedure and the costs involved in changing to a water recycable pitch, world hockey has to look to change with the 2028 Games in Los Angeles where water environmentalists are rife.
🚿Water-based pitches stripped in time for Paris 2024 Olympics.
🌱World hockey open to grass tournaments.
▶️Changes afoot under new FIH chief.
— The Hockey Paper (@TheHockeyPaper) November 4, 2018
“If we can use existing infrastructure like we did in England, that is extremely useful,” Weil said. “Temporary infrastructure involves a lot of work and money, and you have to build the lavatories for that… When you hear what we have spent on portable lavatories, it’s nonsense.”
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