The Hockey Pro League has been put under further scrutiny after Hockey Australia (HA) questioned the current model of the global hockey tournament and said it could withdraw completely if the FIH failed to respond to proposals set out by some competing nations.
In the first negative statement from a playing nation, HA chiefs highlighted concerns with the lack of host nations, the “extremely high” costs to compete and that hosting neutral matches had failed to work.
HA also believed there was a “confusion” in the global league’s narrative, and that the Pro League had “reduced relevancy as some nations play more matches than others (in blocks)”.
Australia’s national governing body said it had committed to Season 5, which starts in the autumn and runs through to June, and was in talks with the FIH for Seasons 6-8, with a final decision set for Nov 1.
“Hockey Australia is committed to the need for an organised and structured international programme from the end of 2024 to 2027,” HA said in a statement.
“Like any international sporting competition, there are complexities involved in delivering a model that benefits stakeholders across each nation now and in the future.
“Going forward, HA wishes to ensure the model is affordable for all participating nations, is relevant to and connects with audiences in local territories and therefore helps grow the game.
“These factors are essential to the ongoing success of Hockey Australia’s strategic plan, and for hockey as an international sport.”
Withdrawals have been commonplace with the FIH’s top tier league.
In February, Ireland men were revealed as a men’s Pro League nation for next season after South Africa’s decision to reject promotion.
South Africa men had qualified outright by winning the Nations Cup in Potchefstroom last year, pictured above. However SA Hockey cited a lack of a headline sponsor and subsequent financial constraints in its decision, with players left in the dark.
“Just cannot believe the decision was made without input of any coaches or players,” Keenan Horne said at the time.
New Zealand women have already pulled out of this season’s Pro League, with USA taking their place.
The Black Sticks will now have to win the FIH Nations Cup to progress back to the Pro League.
India women had beaten Spain in the first Nations Cup to usher in promotion to next year’s Pro League.