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WHL format finalised

Chennai: The much debated and delayed FIH World Hockey League (WHL) acquired a format shape on Monday. Set for launch next year (2012), the proposed WHL will pave way for determining places for World Cups and the Olympics.

During the 2012-13 period, the WHL will help qualify four teams directly for the next World Cup at The Hague (Netherlands).The teams will have to confirm participation by April 1.

The men's and women's teams ranked 1-8 will receive automatic bye to Round III. Teams ranked in the next tier, (9-16) are the automatic qualifiers for Round II. The details of the points to be awarded will be announced later. The first round event will be determined after the receipt of the number of entries.

This process, according to FIH, affords an opportunity to all the member countries a fair chance to make it to the Olympics and the World Cup. The FIH hopes to involve Continental Federations in the conduct of the first round of the WHL.

Those teams making it to Round II will join (9-16) ranked nations in a regional event that may include teams from varying continents.

At the end of Round II, eight teams will move to Round III to join the top eight teams that automatically qualify. The third round will then be played in two groups of eight. The champion team of the WHL and the qualifiers (taking into account the position of the host country) will be determined in 2013.

The host countries for the first two rounds have not been determined yet, but the Executive Board has finalised the venues for third and the fourth rounds.

Men: Round III A: Pakistan (February 2013); Round III B: Germany (June 2013); Round IV: India (September 2013): Women: III A: The Netherlands (2013); Round III B: China (June 2013). Round IV: Argentina (December 2013).

Men's (1-8) Automatic qualifiers: Australia, Germany, Netherlands, England, Spain, Korea, New Zealand and Pakistan; 9 – 16 (bye to Round II): India, Canada, Argentina, South Africa, Belgium, China, Malaysia and Japan.

Women: (1 –8) (bye to Round III): Argentina, Netherlands, Germany, China, England, Australia, New Zealand and Korea; 9 – 16 (bye to Round II): Japan, Spain, India, South Africa, USA, Azerbaijan, Ireland and Chile . — Hockey Correspondent.

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