The World Cup averted controversy on Tuesday when Japan finished their Pool match with 12 outfield players on the field in a dramatic penalty corner finale. Japan ultimately lost the match but could still face punishment with their captain facing a likely ban.
At 2-1 down against South Korea in an all-Asian clash, Japan were taking their 13th and final penalty corner, with time having run out on the clock.
TV pictures showed the Japanese team with an injector, eight at the top of the circle and three players camped behind, but the error went unnoticed.
After two successive corners, Korea held out before Japan, who had pulled their goalkeeper, referred their final PC but to no avail. Pictures emerged on social media before Japan or South Korea could be asked for comment.
The FIH said in a statement: “After the match, the FIH Officials – who have not spotted this situation on the moment – have spoken to the Japanese team who have explained that they hadn’t realised this at all and expressed their most sincere apologies.”
A statement added: “FIH is currently investigating the issue to establish how it happened.”
The result left Japan bottom of the Pool B and facing Belgium in their match, while cross-over favourites Korea and Germany face off.
Korea’s win was their first at a World Cup since 2010 when they beat the Netherlands.
At the 2014 World Cup in The Hague, Argentina men fielded 12 players for more than two minutes in the bronze medal play-off against England.
The score was 0-0 at the time before Argentina ran out 2-0 winners. England later lodged a protest with the International Hockey Federation (FIH) but the result stood.
The FIH deemed the incident “unintentional”, although Argentina’s captain was banned for one match.
FIH rules state: “A personal penalty may be awarded against the captain of the team involved, if inadvertently having too many players on the pitch occurs for a very short period of time and does not materially affect the match.”