After football and cricket, hockey is the latest sport which is set to introduce a world championship of clubs with the International Hockey Federation (FIH) mulling a Club World Cup to be held in India from next year.
Inspired by the success of the inaugural Hockey India League (HIL) and the potential of the game in India, FIH president Leandro Negre said that the world body is now planning to hold the hockey Club World Cup in India for the first four years.
"I would like to inform you that the FIH is planning to hold the Club World Cup in India. We are working on it from last year but it is too early to say anything about the event.
“My personal wish is to start the tournament next year, but the proposal is still under discussion," Negre told reporters.
"The proposal is to hold the Club World Cup for the first four years in India and then shift it to other nations. We will like to have a contract with a nation for four years but it can be trimmed," he said.
"It will be an eight team competition – winners of club competitions from five continents, the winner of HIL and two wild card entrants," he said elaborating on the format of the proposed event.
The FIH chief was full of praise for the HIL and said the world body was serious about the potential of the league. "The FIH is very clear about the importance of HIL and that's why we are allotting the window to it," he insisted.
"HIL is very important for the youth of Indian and future of Indian hockey. This competition will be a new milestone for the future of hockey," he said.
Asked about the ban imposed on the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) by the International Olympic Committee, Negre said if the crisis is not resolved quickly, it will have adverse affect on Indian sports and sportsmen and hockey is no exception.
"The IOC has suspended IOA. The next Olympics is still some time away and I hope the matter will be resolved soon between the IOC and IOA. But if it is not resolved and the IOC asks us to stop India from participating in international competitions, it will be a shame," the FIH said.
He reiterated that Hockey India is the sole governing body for the game in the country but said FIH is open to talks with the rival Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) at any time.
"HI is the future. IHF is not the future of India hockey. We did our best to find an amicable solution and we are still open to talks with anyone," he said.
Meanwhile, the newly-appointed High Performance Director of Indian hockey, Roelant Oltmans said India will have to be patient to return to the top league of world hockey.
"Indian hockey is heading for a great future, but don't expect results overnight. You at least need 6 six years. The talent is there but we also have to work on the development of youngsters," said Oltmans, who is the coach of the Uttar Pradesh Wizards in the inaugural HIL.
Photograph: Danish Ismail/Reuters