Nimbus Sport, the marketing agency for the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), has announced its plans to invest US$56.5 million in the inaugural World Series Hockey competition set to take place in India.
However, the competition is yet to be officially sanctioned by the International Hockey Federation (HIF).
The announcement comes after the two parties confirmed that eight franchises and a number of players have agreed to participate in the event, scheduled to start on 15 December 2011.
Nimbus Sports are expected to spend the money on signing new players, infrastructure, event operations, and marketing and promotion.
However, a statement by the sport’s world governing body explained its reasons for not sanctioning the event: “The IHF has not been recognised by the FIH since 2000. Instead the FIH recognises Hockey India (HI) as the sole national governing body for hockey in India.”
It continued: “The FIH would like to restate that it has not changed its position on World Series Hockey. It remains an unsanctioned event as per the FIH statutes and bye-laws.”
While many of the players and captains say they will not participate in the event unless the IHF is recognised by the FIH, the IHF claims that, “regarding player participation in the WSH, players who signed contracts before 31st March, 2011 could, subject to them having no other contractual or national obligations with their respective national associations, play in the league.”
As the dispute continues over which body runs hockey in India, Harish Thawani, executive chairman of Nimbus Communications, said: “The undertaking is that the FIH will not interfere with the contracts signed with the nearly 176 international and Indian players before March 31, 2011. We will run the event with the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), which is the controlling body for hockey in India.”
The inaugural World Series Hockey will consist of 61 matches, with each of the eight teams playing 14 league matches across venues in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bangalore, Chennai, New Delhi, Punjab (Chandigarh, Jalandhar, Amritsar) and two of the short-listed cities in Kolkata, Rourkela, Bhopal, Ranchi, Pune, Manipur and Lucknow. The tournament offers US$2 million in prize money and will involve around 40 overseas players, with all of the players, captains and coaches distributed among the franchises via a draft system.