The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has announced that France, Japan, Malaysia and Spain will host finals events next year for its new Hockey Series competition.
The FIH launched the new national team competition in May as part of an effort to support the development of the sport in countries around the world. The Hockey Series provides a new qualification opportunity for both men’s and women’s teams to progress to the summer Olympic Games, as well as future Hockey World Cups.
The women’s Hockey Series Finals will take place next year in Japan and Spain and the men’s are to happen in France and Malaysia, with two more Hockey Series Finals – one men’s and one women’s, to be confirmed within the coming weeks.
A crucial stage on the road to Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games qualification, these events will involve many of the world’s top teams not playing in the FIH Pro League plus qualifiers from this year’s Hockey Series Open.
Between April and June next year, eight teams per gender will compete in each of the respective events. The top two teams from each Hockey Series Final will secure a place in the Olympic Qualification Events which will be held in November 2019.
The FIH said Japan and France were selected to provide a significant boost for hockey ahead of the Tokyo 2020 and Paris 2024 Olympic Games. Between May 25 and June 2, Japan will host its women’s event at a venue to be confirmed shortly, while the men’s event in France will take place in Touquet Athlétic Club, Le Touquet between June 15-23.
The event in Malaysia will take place between April 23 and May 1 at the Bukit Jalil National Stadium in Kuala Lumpur. It marks the return of FIH competition to the passionate hockey nation for the first time since the Men’s Champions Challenge in 2014.
Spain will be looking to build on the interest generated by the men’s team’s involvement in the FIH Pro League, which begins in January. The women’s Hockey Series Final will be held at the Betero Hockey Stadium in Valencia between June 19-27.
FIH chief executive Thierry Weil said: “The Hockey Series Finals will provide the platform to showcase our sport to a global audience whilst also offering significant legacy prospects for each of these leading hockey nations. We have no doubt that teams, fans, media and commercial partners will be eagerly anticipating this new competition which is an important component of our new event portfolio.”