A “complete and utter shambles” is how Ireland men’s coach Mark Tumilty views the current qualification process for the next Hockey World Cup.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, Tumility says it will now be increasingly difficult for the Green Machine to make the 2023 World Cup.
Last month, the FIH increased the number of World Cup quota places available through Continental Championships and Tumilty is now calling for consistency after qualifying route changes.
Europe was awarded seven men’s World Cup berths for the 2023 global showpiece event, with six representatives at the 2022 Women’s World Cup, co-hosts Spain and Holland having already been confirmed. The final four tickets will be realised at the 2021 Euros in Amsterdam this summer.
But with Ireland relegated from the 2019 Euro men’s top division, Tumilty says that a lack of a standard qualification process has left little clarity for the Irish team’s four-year cycle.
“I have seen three different qualification processes in relation to the World Cup. It was going to be home and away games, like the Olympic qualifier,” he told the Irish Examiner newspaper.
“Then it was changed to a 12-team tournament with five teams qualifying. Now we have ended up with what the FIH have come up with.”
According to the newspaper, the European Hockey Federation is mulling a regional qualifier so that countries outside of the EuroHockey Division A tournament could qualify for the World Cup.
He added: “There should be an opportunity to qualify for a World Cup; it can’t be based on how a team did back in 2019, from a tournament no one had any idea would have any bearing on four years’ time.”
Meanwhile, Ireland women became one of the first international teams to play some sort of competitive hockey when the Green Army played against Spain at the weekend. Ireland won 4-1 in Murcia in their opening non-capped set of matches.