FIH: November Elections

by Ernst Baart – Studio Hockey

These next months might prove to be crucial for the future of our sport…

While the fans still celebrate (or mourn) the Netherlands taking a 3rd world cup in a row in women’s hockey… For the more engaged follower of our sport the day after was marked by the resignation of Narinder Batra as FIH president. Batra also resigned from his roles as president of the Indian Olympic Association and his membership of the IOC. He cites personal reasons, which can be translated into the recent court order in Delhi stating he was in the wrong on several accounts that secured his power in the world of sports and the ongoing corruption allegations. The national association of Hockey India is currently run by 3 independent administrators, as ordered by the court, until they manage to run elections and appointments the right way. If they do not get their house in order soon, it might even jeopardise the upcoming men’s world cup in January 2023,

But let’s not dwell on this. Let’s look forward and hope our sport can bounce back… It’s for the administrators and specialised press to investigate what went wrong and how to prevent this in the future. Both in India as on the global scene.

FIH elections

In November this year the FIH was already scheduled to run its global congress and that’s when the NA’s (= national associations) from all over the world will once again elect a president. Five other executive board seats are also up for election. So could we see a shift away from Batra & his allies again? I think it’s doubtful much would change but we can hope…

Allow me to share my wish list of priorities…

  1. Focus on growing the players instead of the followers
    It’s not about getting more countries to have a hockey federation. It’s not about the followers on your social media. The purpose of any federation in sports should be to grow the numbers of people playing (!) the sport. And please start measuring this in a reliable way. Do not rely on power hungry administrators showing of inflated unproven numbers.
  2. Transparency and accountability
    These are obvious ones of course. In theory everyone will say they support these. In reality however… So let’s start with two simple goals regarding this. First publish all financial audited accounts for the FIH and its foundation for these last years with explanations. Before the elections. Secondly, elections can not be secret anymore… the right to a secret vote is sacred for individuals. However when you’re voting on behalf of others (as all NA administrators are) a vote needs to be in the open and accounted for.
  3. Be a strong voice within the IOC to protect true team sports
    Instead of bowing to their pressure (more medal events with less resources). True leaders do not cave for the promise of money if it corrupts our values. Help IOC remember they’re not in the entertainment business but into sports or they should be. And show the way…

If, as a side effect from all this, we could also “86” the monstrosity that is Hockey5s, I would love it obviously. We already have a traditional and a short format which fulfil all needs anyone could have to get started or continue playing hockey wherever you are in the world. The 5s format has no (as in zero) added value and makes for diluted budgets allocated to promoting the existing formats. But I’m not holding my breath on this one. Let’s first start with the 3 priorities above and the rest will follow 🙂

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