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FIH chief defends eight team format in Champions Trophy

BHUBANESWAR: The new format of the Champions Trophy might have come in for criticism from some coaches but International Hockey Federation president Leandro Negre on Saturday defended it, saying that increasing the number of teams to eight has raised television viewership of the tournament.

Negre also made it clear that the rule and format changes the game has witnessed in the recent past have been driven by TV ratings.

“I’m in full support to have Champions Trophy with eight teams. All of you need to understand our strategy. If you want to promote hockey, you just can’t limit a tournament to the top teams in the world. This format gives more opportunities. We need to open hockey to the world. I’m really glad with the results of the quarterfinals,” Negre said at a press conference at Kalinga Stadium here.

Till 2010, six best teams of the world used to participate in the prestigious Champions Trophy but from 2012 edition in Melboure onwards, the FIH introduced the eight-team format by allotting wild card entries to lower-ranked teams — India and Pakistan

He said to promote hockey, FIH needs to “sell” the game. “I think we need to make changes. I am quite sure all of you will agree that the changes we have made are for the best of hockey. The new rules are much better than how we used to play 4 years ago. I also know that by introducing too many changes we can have confusions, but if we have a good idea I think we need to implement that,” he said.