The International Hockey Federation has expressed its disapproval, both of the German Hockey Association's decision to send their development team and of the lateness of the announcement, prior to the Rabobank Hockey Champions Trophy, which takes place in Amsterdam, The Netherlands from 16-24 August 2003.
Despite a strong personal appeal from Peter Cohen, FIH Hon Secretary General to Dr. Christoph Wüterich, DHB President, stressing the extra responsibility the German team holds as current World Champions and the embarrassment for the organising body, the Royal Dutch Hockey Association (Koninklijke Nederlandse Hockey Bond - KNHB). The DHB was not prepared to reverse its decision.
Acting on advice from its technical staff, Germany has opted against fielding its strongest team because of the Rabobank Champions Trophy's proximity to September's European Nations Cup. The winner of the European Nations Cup gains automatic qualification to the Athens Olympic Games, thus avoiding the Olympic Qualifying Tournament, to be played in Madrid, Spain in March 2004.
FIH was unable to schedule the tournament on alternative dates. The Hockey Champions Trophy was originally to be held in July in Milton Keynes, England, but English Hockey had to withdraw its offer to host in July 2002 due to financial difficulties at that time. FIH offered the event for re-tender, specifying the hosting dates between June 21st and July 23rd 2003.
However, the only National Association to respond to the re-tender, the KNHB, couldn't meet this condition, because key organising partners such as its host broadcaster and National Olympic Committee had conflicting commitments to previously scheduled major sports tournaments. The decision was publicly announced in September 2002 at that year's Hockey Champions Trophy, which took place in Cologne, Germany.
FIH Hon Secretary General, Peter Cohen, commented, "Of course, the denied opportunity to watch the current World Champions in action amongst the world's six best teams at FIH's premier annual event is a disappointment for the players, spectators, the organisers, television viewers, broadcasters and sponsors. At this stage we have done everything that is reasonable to persuade DHB to reconsider. The FIH Executive Board will discuss methods and possible sanctions to avoid these unfortunate actions in future, at its upcoming meetings in Amsterdam from 21-23 August.
On a positive outlook, five of the world's top teams will still be present at the Rabobank Champions Trophy and with such strong competition from four continents, our shared frustration is likely to be swiftly appeased with a highly successful hockey spectacle for all."