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FIH confirms hosts for World League semi-finals

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has confirmed that England, Belgium and South Africa will host the semi-finals of its World League national team tournament next summer.

The men’s and women’s semi-finals, which will serve as qualifiers for the 2018 Hockey World Cup, will take place at the three locations between June 15 and July 23, 2017.

London’s Lee Valley Hockey and Tennis Centre had already been pencilled in as the host of the first men’s semi-final, which will take place from June 15-25. The first women’s semi-final will be staged at Stade Fallon in Brussels, Belgium between June 21 and July 2.

The Randburg Hockey Turf in Johannesburg, South Africa will host the second men’s and women’s semi-finals from July 8-23. It will mark the first time South Africa has staged a major FIH event since Johannesburg hosted the Champions Challenge in 2011.

Each semi-final will comprise 10 teams, six of which will qualify for this stage based on their FIH world ranking. The remaining four teams will qualify through Hockey World League Round 2 events taking place earlier in 2017.

The top ranked teams from each semi-final will qualify for the 2018 World Cup. The men’s and women’s editions of the tournament will take place in India and England, respectively.

The Hockey World League semi-finals and finals events will be discontinued in 2019 as part of a competition revamp outlined by FIH earlier this year.

From 2019, a global structure will be introduced that will see national teams play one another home and away each year. The tournament will complement the Olympic Games and the World Cup, which are both held every four years.

The top-ranked teams from the competition will qualify for a stand-alone ‘grand finale’ tournament. The FIH will choose the teams that participate in the competition based on a specific set of criteria that aims to preserve the league’s quality.

The competition will form the top level of a three-tiered system that will be implemented in both the men’s and women’s games. The nations not picked for the home and away league will participate in events similar to the first two rounds of the current Hockey World League. These events will take place over a two-year cycle and will still provide a qualification route for the Olympics and World Cup.