Today the administrators from 126 hockey countries (14 could not even be bothered) around the world voted in Tayyab Ikram as president of the FIH. As predicted…
The reason is simple. The FIH has 140 members (= countries with national associations or NA). Each NA has 1 vote in the elections. Regardless if you represent an NA with no playing members (as in zero… yes these exist I’m told) or one with +100K members, it’s 1 vote per NA.
At the moment we are lacking severely in transparency and accountability. Representatives of the NA’s can not be held accountable for their vote because of secret voting. The secrecy of a vote is sacred when it comes to elections by individuals. However it is a sacrilege when it comes to people voting on behalf of others (people they represent) in my opinion.
My rough estimate is some 20 of these NA’s actually have a healthy population of hockey players and in total maybe 40 also support the philosophy represented by Coudron, with a priority on growing the number of players. This means some 100 or so NA’s in my opinion exist mainly to support their administration and make sure they continue to receive money from the government and the Olympic movement. The latter are more likely to support Ikram who will try and get them their funds from national Olympic associations, without really asking them to commit to the difficult task of growing the number of players in their country.
The vote was 79 vs 47 in favour of Ikram…
So now we know the why, the how and the what with regards to this election. We’re left with “what next”
In my belief the FIH will become even less the international federation of hockey and even more the federation of international hockey. So more stress for domestic hockey as we know it.
It means in order to please the source of all money, the IOC, the FIH will pick the game of Hockey5s over the existing format.
In Europe the club culture focussed on recreational sport for family & friends will slowly wither and be replaced by commercial entities selling subscriptions so people can play whenever they want and whoever they want. Members become clients. In the same way you will book a round of golf, a game of padel or a group session of whatever fitness hype in your local gym. Only team sports who can establish themselves as a business will survive. Hockey will have a difficult time in the shadow of bigger sports. Football will remain the exception because that sport has been to the people in power what “panem et circenses” was to the rulers in ancient Rome. But whatever our administrators try to sell us, hockey is not a big sport in the world. Pretending to be among the big boys will get you hurt eventually…
Whatever comes next, whatever the direction hockey will take. For me, we left behind some true values I believe in. So I will step back. Maybe for now, maybe for good. We’ll see where these folks take us…
The end of hockey?
In 2018 I wrote a column with the title “The end of hockey“.
The end of hockey is getting near… Or at least the end of hockey as we know it.
Today our sport took another step into that direction in my belief. There will still be an FIH and the name of hockey will still be listed as an Olympic sport (maybe). Most likely though, not the game I will recognise or love… So even if the end of hockey is a bit melodramatic, it will probably be the end of studiohockey.com.
It’s been a pleasure sharing my thoughts with you for these odd 20 years or so. Thanks for reading and sharing yours… Bye!