The primary version of the FIH Professional League has declared its winners… and its losers! Thierry Weil, CEO for the FIH declared the primary version of his Professional League a hit. Which resulted in a number of giggles in addition to grinding tooth around the globe. To those that consider the FIH Professional League has potential added worth for our sport, it’s clear it was not the idea that failed. Certain some tweaks, as anticipated, are needed however the concept behind the Professional League continues to be a legitimate one. The execution nonetheless did fail on a number of counts and the guarantees made by FIH president Batra as soon as once more proved to be sizzling air and nothing extra…
Overpromising & underdelivering
Batra is proving to be a real politician as an alternative of the hockey aficionado he claims to be. He shortly rose to energy inside Hockey India within the wake of the restructuring enforced by the FIH a number of years in the past. Subsequent he gave us the Hockey India League (HIL). The HIL was his first actually nice concept that sadly crumbled after simply 5 years due to poor execution, promising an excessive amount of and underdelivering. What a disgrace! As a result of it had actual added worth for the world of hockey, permitting professional hockey gamers to reside like a professional. However much more for India, as a result of lastly younger Indian expertise got here into contact, despite the fact that for simply a few weeks a yr, with one of the best on the earth. That is a part of the rationale why India climbed the worldwide rating these final years.
Subsequent up Batra turned FIH president in 2016 and once more, clearly, guarantees have been made… some out loud, some behind closed doorways. Take heed to Batra, in his first press convention when he turned FIH president, when requested if his election as FIH president is a part of an even bigger plan to develop into an IOC member:
So we retain the next… Regardless that the rumours already existed about Batra aiming for the presidency of the India Olympic Affiliation and his ambition to develop into an IOC member, he states the alternative:
“For me it’s solely hockey and I refuse to look past that. That’s the place I ought to stay focussed into and focus. It’s hockey, hockey, hockey and that’s it!”
Narinder Batra – FIH president
After all, by now, we all know a yr later in 2017 he turned president of the IOA, claiming he might do each jobs with no drawback. And in June 2019 he received elected as IOC member as effectively… Certain, there may very well be advantages for hockey to have extra hockey individuals within the IOC defending our pursuits. However there’s doubt Batra actually cares about hockey… Batra cares about his standing, energy and affect in India before everything. Is it actually hockey, hockey, hockey? Or quite Batra, Batra, Batra…
The second declare by Batra we retain from his first press convention as FIH president is about his priorities inside hockey:
“I want to focus and focus extra on the right way to enhance the income and the attain for hockey.”
Narinder Batra – FIH president
He states the FIH workplace is completely succesful with out him to cope with all calendar and sport associated points. His personal added worth, in response to Batra, could be in rising the attain of hockey and the income. In my opinion rising the attain of hockey would imply: extra nations and extra individuals actively concerned in enjoying hockey. In his view it means extra hockey on TV, extra viewers, … However that apart, clearly it’s early to evaluate him on rising the attain of hockey. That isn’t one thing that occurs in a single day. Although I fail to notice what he has achieved up to now in direction of this objective.
The income a part of his promise to the world of hockey nonetheless is one thing we are able to measure yearly…
“Me and the brand new CEO is not going to allow you to down, is not going to let hockey down on the income half. (…) Give us a while. The income will go up, relaxation assured.”
Narinder Batra – FIH president
Rising the income is one thing we are able to consider yearly… Although right here as effectively, in all equity, it’s a objective that may take a while to actually make a distinction. Nevertheless, earlier than Batra, the FIH had an ongoing cope with for instance Star Sports activities, an essential Asian sports activities broadcaster from India. Since Batra taking workplace, this has been withdrawn by the broadcaster. That was a big amount of cash, of income the FIH misplaced. Was there a relationship with the disciplinary motion by the FIH towards Batra across the similar time? Some may say it appears like a political manoeuvre orchestrated by Batra, after he received slapped on the wrist for his behaviour, to point out FIH and different nations he and solely he managed the move of cash.
In organising the FIH Professional League, the FIH panel answerable for beginning up the Professional League agreed (!) to a proposal from a 3rd get together who would handle your entire occasion and commercialise it. This impartial sports activities administration firm assured a yearly price range for 4 years, adequate to honour all guarantees made by FIH with reference to the Professional League in direction of gamers, nationwide associations and broadcasters. However, opposing their very own administration, Batra and his Govt Board declined the supply… with out something to switch these funds wanted to make the Professional League a hit! As a result of, I can solely assume, he must be in charge of the move of cash…
So it appears like his guarantees to hockey gamers about hockey as a legitimate profession selection are but to be fulfilled.
“My important focus might be to extend the income… That’s how we can help the FIH members and develop. The profit goes again to the athletes, so individuals can really feel they’ll make a profession out of hockey.”
Narinder Batra – FIH president
I get it’s a tough activity. Maybe a activity too massive to perform in simply a few years. However whenever you flip down a companion that may make all of this attainable right away from the start, alarm bells begin ringing. If the proposal would have had too many “ifs and buts” I assume the FIH Professional League Panel wouldn’t have beneficial this to Batra & co. So what could be the ulterior motive for declining this assured income in a position to fulfil all (or most) guarantees made? For my part, Batra must be in management for him to agree…
The strain from IOC to do extra with much less
IOC has modified loads because the day of Pierre de Coubertin. They’ve develop into the primary supply of revenue for many of their affiliated sports activities. As is the case for hockey. The perceived want for progress and extra income has led them to consider they’re the truth is within the leisure enterprise as an alternative of well being & training by way of sports activities. So the strain is on, as in most companies, to do extra with much less. Extra medals with much less athletes, although from extra nations and needing much less infrastructure. In comparison with particular person sports activities, staff sports activities have extra issues answering that decision. The FIH developed Hockey5s for that sole goal. Permitting for extra nations to take part with out elevating the variety of athletes. Plus, whereas unthinkable in common hockey, they could even add a third medal by including a combined class in Hockey5s. With video games being performed on smaller sized pitches, with presumably extra flexibility in floor and game-time being restricted to 2x 10 minutes they might cram a whole match in much less days additionally.
The concept of the Professional League happened from a must develop into much less depending on the IOC funds. Change the given the place the Olympic video games are perceived to be the top of success to extra significance for the World Cup and FIH’s personal occasions such because the FIH Professional League. The place sufficient cash could be generated from these occasions to develop into much less dependent from the IOC. Following the instance of rugby, cricket, soccer…
The Batra agenda
Batra, nonetheless, shortly understood pushing the Hockey5s agenda would please the IOC and thus assist him get elected into their ranks. If he succeeds in changing our old-fashioned hockey with Hockey5s by LA2028 it would assist him wheel within the 2032 or 2036 Video games to India which might elevate his standing and affect in India to the specified degree… That’s his final objective!
If you happen to consider this to be true it’s simple to see why they’d name this Professional League a hit. Its actual objective is to show the time of our beloved conventional hockey sport, 11 v 11, is over. A failing Professional League would show our customary sport can’t be made into a world commercially profitable sport and must be changed by a so-called fashionable model of it: enter Hockey5s!
This manner the FIH can elevate its medal occasions from 2 to three, including combined groups. Hockey’s wants when it comes to infrastructure could be loads simpler to deal with with smaller pitches and presumably different surfaces than water-based synthetic turf. Hockey might elevate the collaborating nations from 12 to 16 and nonetheless have 15% much less athletes within the Village. And eventually with video games taking on much less time, every medal occasion may very well be decreased to 1 week or 10 days as an alternative of two weeks. One can see the enchantment for the IOC, however it will be the demise of a sport with a lot custom within the Olympic motion. A sport that doesn’t give in to diminishing consideration span of viewers today, however promotes actual teamwork and perseverance. All this nonetheless doesn’t imply loads to individuals like Batra. They see hockey as a method to their very own objectives. In case of Batra these objectives are entering into the IOC and convey the Video games to his India. He’s midway there…
Who is aware of… Any answer must begin with extra professionalism (and political savoir faire) from European, Australian and American directors. The time of effectively that means volunteers managing the game is over. As a result of so long as essential selections can nonetheless be made with the “one nation, one vote” precept inside the FIH, politicians like Batra will be capable of foyer their manner by way of all of it…
Having grown up within the Netherlands and Belgium I do know all concerning the artwork of compromise in politics. It’s in our DNA. One attainable answer to save lots of our hockey could be for the opposite nations actually concerned in hockey to help Batra’s try and host the Olympic video games in India a while quickly. In return for his help to develop hockey, our conventional 11-a-side hockey. Getting extra income to develop into much less dependent upon IOC cash whereas additionally ensuring to not exchange the IOC with solely Indian cash in fact. If we are able to flip our FIH World Cup and FIH Professional League into cash making occasions, with out promoting our soul to the satan, we stand an opportunity of surviving. However time is working out…
In the meantime… let’s get pleasure from our hockey whereas we nonetheless can. After a busy hockey month in June (by no means seen soooo a lot worldwide hockey in a single month) we got a brief break from all of it. However earlier than it the Junior European Championships will get underway (reside streamed at eurohockeytv.org)… the Pan Am Championships, the senior European Championships (reside streamed at eurohockeytv.org), the European membership leagues, the brand new Australian Hockey One occasion and the all essential Olympic Qualifiers in October and November. A number of good quaint hockey, simply the best way we prefer it 😉