By Jugjet Singh
AUSTRALIA and New Zealand will both qualify auto matically for the Olympics and possibly World Cups after the International Hockey Federation (FIH) gave them a super boost, while Asia were avoided like a leprosy colony.
The FIH released the qualification quotas for the 2012 London Olympic Games, where it gave one ticket to the winners of the Oceania Cup, while: “Therefore, the next highest placed team at the 7th Men’s Oceania Cup qualifies directly for the 2012 Olympics Games, together with the Oceania Champion,” read the FIH website.
This is a mockery as the Oceania Cup men’s tournament since 1999 to 2009 has witnessed Australia winning it and New Zealand emerging second.
And the reason is that in 1999, 2001 and 2003, only both the teams played in the Oceania Cup, while in 2005 Fiji was the third team, in 2007 Papua New Guinea was the third team, and in 1999 Samoa were the third team.
Needless to say, Fiji, Papua and Samoa received the whipping of their lives. Australia are the No 1 ranked team in the World, New Zealand seventh, Samoa 71st, Fiji 72nd and Papua New Guinea 73rd.
The last three spots in the FIH World ranking belong to the three Oceania teams.
The same applies for the Women’s Oceania Cup, where Australia and New Zealand shared the honours, because their opponents had difficulty in even holding the hockey sticks properly.
The FIH snubbed Asia when it maintained that only the Asian Games gold medallist gets a direct ticket to the Olympics, while the second to sixth placed teams play in three other qualifiers which offers only three tickets to the Olympics.
Asia has South Korea, India, Pakistan, Malaysia, China and Japan in the top 20 of the world rankings, but were only given one direct entry.
THE qualification system for the 2012 Olympic Games Men’s Hockey Tournament:
Automatic qualifiers: Host nation – Great Britain; Africa - Champion at Africa Men’s Olympic Qualifying Tournament’; America - Champion at 16th Pan American Games; Asia - Champion at 16th Asian Games; Europe - Champion at 13th EuroHockey Nations Championship for Men; Oceania - Champion at 7th Men’s Oceania Cup.
Extra quota places: Europe: Two extra quotas; Oceania: One extra quota.