The Spanish are upset but the International Hockey Federation seems to have a legitimate argument.
All this stems from the request made by the Spanish Hockey Federation to allow 18 players to be registered for a match, as opposed to 16 players as is the practice in the Junior World Cup Hockey tournament.
The argument is that since 18 players can be registered for the tournament, it makes sense to allow all 18 to be on the bench for any given match instead of having to pick 16 players.
The Spaniards wrote to FIH prior to this tournament and their request was denied. But that still did not stop the Spanish team from voicing their displeasure at the decision taken by FIH.
“We cannot understand the reasoning of FIH not to allow all the players to be registered for a match,” said Spanish team manager Alejo Noblom.
“We have to play tough matches, four in the space of five days, and that puts a lot of strain on the players. One can see that many teams are affected as evident from the injuries they suffer at the closing stages of the match.
“Though the Spanish HF wrote to FIH, our appeal was not considered and I hope they have a re-think after looking at what is happening here.”
But as so far as the FIH are concerned, Tournament Director Bjorn Isberg said that he was bound by the decision taken by the world body.
“Really there is nothing much left for me to say as the letter from FIH has made things very clear with regards to this issue,” said Bjorn.
“I highlighted this at the Team Manager’s meeting and no one raised an objection or made known their views.
“There is no way that we can amend this regulation mid-way of a tournament and I really cannot do anything about it as it has been decided by FIH.”
FIH had also clarified as to why two earlier tournaments held in Malaysia, the 2002 World Cup and 2008 Champions Trophy allowed all 18 players to be registered for a match.
“The junior world cup cannot be compared with two previous senior tournaments played in Kuala Lumpur where such an exception was made. Firstly the tournament is being played over an extended period of 15 days,” wrote FIH Hon. Secretary General Peter L. Cohen in his letter to the Spanish HF.
“Secondly unlike previous tournaments where an exception was made, the Junior World Cup is being played on four competition pitches at two venues. Thirdly 80 of the 82 matches are scheduled at 1700H or later.”
The letter from FIH to the Spanish Hockey Federation dated June 2 gives several reasons as to why the request for all 18 players to be registered for match. Among the reasons were:
- that the purpose to nominate 18 players is to ensure that in the case of injury or illness, a team is still able to have 16 players and compete with an opponent on equal basis as far as the number of players is concerned.
- there is a serious potential that if the FIH relaxes the rules for tournaments of this nature simply because an event is played in temperatures that may be higher than are experienced elsewhere in the world that there may be a push for 20 players in the future. The cost implications for such a proposal would be serious.
However there may be a ray of hope for the teams, if the FIH studies the daily medical reports submitted to them.
“I take instructions from FIH so really it will be up to them to make the call on this matter. I am carrying out the instructions and adhere to the regulations ,”clarified Bjorn.