Saturday, December 9, 2023

FIH Hockey Pro League: New Zealand women pull out over travel costs

New Zealand women have confirmed that they will focus on the Paris Olympics rather than participating in next season’s Pro League.

Despite retaining their place in the global league, the bottom side USA will now keep their top tier status for next year after initially being relegated.

The Black Sticks will now have to win the FIH Nations Cup to progress back to the Pro League.

Hockey New Zealand CEO Anthony Crummy said: “As a founding participating nation in the league, this was a difficult decision for us, but the right one to ensure we are best placed to qualify and prepare for the most important event in our calendar, the Olympic Games.

“The doubling of travel costs in a post-Covid environment, and the volume of travel coupled with the timing of Season 5’s events in a busy 2024 meant it’s just not possible to participate in Pro League while qualifying and adequately preparing for the Olympics.”

USA Field Hockey Executive Director Simon Hoskins stated: “We are sorry to learn of the withdrawal of New Zealand women. For USA, we are excited for the opportunity to continue in the FIH Hockey Pro League. Our young and improving squad will be looking to make their mark in Season 5.”

FIH CEO Thierry Weil said: “FIH and the participating nations have collectively evolved and adjusted the FIH Hockey Pro League since the launch to establish a format which is not only more sustainable but profitable to all eventually.

“But with the commitment of Hockey New Zealand to do their utmost to be part of the FIH Hockey Pro League journey soon again, I’m convinced that we will welcome back the Black Sticks sooner than later.”

India had beaten Spain in the first Nations Cup to usher in promotion to next year’s Pro League.

FIH will announce the final match schedule for the 2023-2024 FIH Hockey Pro League season shortly.

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