Oman landing hockey showcase ruffle feathers



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Oman to host 2024 Hockey 5s World Cup Image: Field Hockey

Upon recommendation from the Task Force Events Bidding (comprising EB Members of all five Continental Federations), the Executive Board (EB) of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced on June 3rd Oman as the host country for the inaugural FIH Hockey5s World Cups (Men and Women) to be played in January 2024. Matches will take place in Oman’s capital City Muscat.

‘FIH’ stated that the Hockey5s’ flagship event is a brand-new FIH competition. Sixteen teams per gender (three per continent plus Oman, as hosts) will take part in this very first edition.

However, the above development has not been well-received and has not gone down well with the international hockey community and Field Hockey Canada (FHC) as Oman is said to trample upon the rights of the LGBTQIA+ community.

The LGBTQIA+ community pertain collectively to people who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer (or those questioning their gender identity or sexual orientation), intersex and asexual (or their allies).

To this end, a statement sent out by Field Hockey Canada (FHC) on June 4th read, “On June 3rd, 2021, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) announced Muscat, Oman as the host of the inaugural Hockey 5s World Cup. This decision has caused consternation across our international hockey community and Field Hockey Canada (FHC) shares this concern. Hockey across the globe is, and should continue to be, a diverse and inclusive sport. The FIH prides itself on being ‘Equally Amazing’ and FHC is proud to be part of an equally amazing sporting community.”

‘Field Hockey Canada’ quoted FHC CEO Dr. Susan Ahrens as stating, “The fact remains that the rights of those in the LGBTQIA+ community are oppressed in Oman. This is a human rights issue. Since 1945, the United Nations have been clear that there should be ‘respect for human rights and for fundamental freedoms for all without distinction’. Whilst the statement made by the FIH on June 3rd rightly recognizes the power of sport to elicit positive societal change, the caveat to this must also be clear: Societal change is only possible when sport is used in a considered and purposeful manner and action is taken in support of promises for diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice. The opposite is true when it is not.”

The Fédération Internationale de Hockey, commonly known by the acronym FIH, is the international governing body of field hockey and indoor field hockey. Its headquarters are in Lausanne, Switzerland and the President is Dr. Narinder Dhruv Batra.

Field Hockey Canada (FHC) is the national sports organization responsible for the development and growth of field hockey in Canada. In collaboration with provincial and club members, FHC provides programs and resources to support the field hockey community from the pitch to the podium.

This month, FHC will be forming its own diversity, equity and inclusion committee as it continues to lead positive change in sport in Canada through a values-based approach.

The FHC statement further read, “We encourage the FIH to consider a similar committee which might guide future decision-making. There is an opportunity for change to be harnessed through sport and we would encourage the FIH to either reconsider the decision to host in Oman or put in place a considered strategy towards reaching a much loftier goal in 2024 – that of social justice for the Omani people. We can and must do better.”
 

Bids

FIH had also received bids from India, Pakistan and Singapore to host the above event.

The ‘FIH’ further stated that Continental Hockey5s qualifiers for the World Cup will be organized in 2022.

FIH Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Thierry Weil remarked, “We’re looking forward to a wonderful inaugural FIH Hockey5s World Cup in Oman. This surely will be a great boost for the promotion of hockey both in the country and in the whole region. We’re convinced that Hockey5s will play a key role in the growth of hockey worldwide. This is why this World Cup has been created, as well as a Hockey5s World Tour which we are currently working on and which fans and athletes will have a glimpse of soon with the ‘FIH Hockey5s Lausanne 2021’ event.”

Oman Hockey Association President Captain Talib Al Wahaibi noted, “I am very pleased and delighted. We happily undertake this great responsibility to deliver the first ever FIH Hockey 5s World Cup at the highest possible standard. We will build state-of-the-art facilities and provide best conditions for the athletes. It is a matter of pride for me, the Sultanate of Oman and Oman hockey. Our sincere gratitude for giving us the responsibility of hosting the FIH Hockey 5s World Cup for Men and Women. Winning the rights to host this innovative and attractive hockey tournament will open up great horizons and showcase the Sultanate of Oman around the world.”

In 2019, the FIH Executive Board decided to create an FIH Hockey5s World Cup, with a view to further boosting the development of hockey globally through the promotion of its five-a-side format.

Hockey5s is played with five athletes per team. It is particularly known for its non-stop end to end action, since the ball is in play for about 90 percent of a match, thanks to rebound-boards placed against the outside of the sidelines and backlines. Furthermore, there are usually more goals with Hockey5s than with the more traditional 11-a-side format of hockey, since players can score from anywhere after the attacking line.

Played in about 70 countries in the world, Hockey5s was the most attended sport at the 2018 Youth Olympic Games in Buenos Aires, Argentina, with no less than 200,000 spectators!

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