New Delhi: Hockey India on Tuesday decided to postpone the sixth edition of the lucrative Hockey India League (HIL) to 2019, citing that the dates in 2018 clashed with the Indoor World Cup, which may bar foreign players' participation in it.
The decision to postpone the HIL, originally scheduled for January-February 2018, was taken after a meeting of the tournament's Governing Committee, comprising representatives of Hockey India and other stakeholders.
The decision was also prompted by a packed international calendar comprising the Hockey World League (HWL) Finals in Bhubaneswar in December 2017, the Commonwealth Games at Gold Coast in April 2018 followed by the Asian Games in Indonesia in August 2018.
This will be followed by the FIH Hockey World Cup, to be held from November 24 to December 16, 2018, also in Bhubaneswar.
HIL Chairman Mohd Mushtaque Ahmad clarified that it will only be a temporary discontinuation and that the cash-rich tournament will return in 2019.
"Due to a conflict in dates of the schedule of Hockey India League 2018 and a major international tournament (Indoor World Cup), which was likely to restrict the participation of international players, it was decided that the best solution was to postpone the conduct of the sixth season of the League," he said in a statement.
"I want to emphasise that we want to resume the League in 2019 albeit with greater prospects to make it more viable financially, not only for the stakeholders but also for the players."
"This decision was made after consultation with all our commercial partners and meeting the contractual obligations of all parties involved," he added.
The HIL in these past five years has given rise to players who have gone on to make a name for themselves in world hockey.
The HIL significantly contributed in the success of the Indian Junior men's team that won the 2016 Junior World Cup while the senior men's team advanced to a commendable No.6 position in the world ranking.
The foreign players also have hugely benefited from the League, mostly financially, by playing in the month-long tournament along side players from various countries.
"HIL has undoubtedly been a fantastic platform for players from around the world to showcase their talent and the participating teams thoroughly enjoyed the experience over the last five seasons," Ahmad said.
"The Governing Committee would like to thank everyone involved with the HIL and all those who participated in the first five seasons of the tournament," he added.
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