The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has confirmed that Pakistan have been suspended from the 2019 FIH Pro League, meaning next month’s Kookaburras-Pakistan match to be played at the Tasmanian Hockey Centre in Hobart will not happen.
The Kookaburras were due to play Pakistan from 3pm AEDT on Saturday 9 February in Hobart, followed by the Hockeyroos-China PR match from 5pm AEDT. Both Australian sides will play Germany on Sunday 10 February in Hobart.
Hockey Australia CEO Matt Favier said: “We are disappointed to learn of Pakistan’s withdrawal from the inaugural FIH Pro League which commences in Australia next month.
“The timing of the announcement presents challenges with Pakistan due to play the Kookaburras in Hobart on Saturday 9 February 3pm.
“We want to stress that Pakistan’s withdrawal will not affect the scheduled 5pm Hockeyroos-China match in Hobart on Saturday 9 February.
“We have immediately begun to consider our options to offer a solution, particularly given fans have pre-purchased tickets and there had been good local interest in the double-header, and will communicate that as soon as possible.”
The Pakistan Hockey Association informed FIH on Wednesday that they were no longer able to play their first three games planned against Argentina, Australia and New Zealand, citing “inevitable circumstances”.
Therefore, the FIH has taken the decision to suspend the Asian team from the 2019 FIH Pro League in order not to jeopardize the regularity and the smooth delivery of the event, which kicked-off successfully last Saturday in Valencia.
FIH CEO Thierry Weil said: “It is regretful that Pakistan has decided only now to withdraw from the first games of the FIH Pro League. Consequently, FIH were left with no other option than suspending Pakistan from the rest of the competition’s season.
“At this stage, I would like to thank all participating National Associations who had adapted their schedules to support a solution for Pakistan to join the competition this year.”
The FIH Pro League is a brand-new competition and part of FIH’s new event portfolio. It’s a global home and away league involving many of the world’s leading hockey nations, Men and Women, for a six-month period.
The non-participation of Pakistan has no impact on the competition format. The eight Men teams of the FIH Pro League will play each other on a home and away basis from January to June.
The FIH Pro League resumes on Friday with the Men’s game Spain-Great Britain.
On Saturday, the Women’s FIH Pro League will kick-off with the game Argentina-Belgium.