FIH is the world parent body for field hockey and to-date they have 127 national associations as their affiliates. Lately, in November 2008 they had their Congress at Los Angeles and elected members of their Executive Board. On the helm of FIH as President is a Spaniard, the former President of the European Hockey Federation and one of his many credentials include being a player at the 1968 Olympic. The President of Singapore Hockey Federation (SHF), was re-elected as the Vice President. 3 other personalities from Wales, Australia and Canada were re-elected on to the Board while a German and a Dutch was also elected to the Board..With the co-opted members, the Executive Board is made up of 24. They are from:
- Europe - 12.
- Africa - 2.
- Asia - 3.
- Oceania - 4 essentially Australia & New Zealand.
- N.America - 2 principally from US & Canada.
- S.America - 1.
12 Committees that had been set up and the Chairpersons of these committees are from :
- Europe - 7.
- N.America - 2.
- Oceania - 3.
The 8 elected representatives of the Executive Board were elected at the Congress in Los Angeles where there were 89 affiliates voting, which itself reflects the democratic process and wishes of its membership.
Where questions may be posed is in the matter of the appointment of the Chairpersons of the 12 Committees. It could argued that the appointments were based on meritocracy and they could be perfectly right. The question is whether continents like Asia, Africa and South America do not have capable people. FIH is the world hockey body not a place to be dominated by people from Europe, Oceania and North America only.
The questions which begs for answer are: Why do these 3 regions have a monopoly of FIH? Is it because they are from developed regions and have the resources? Maybe they speak a common language in hockey? It could be that they have common ancestors? Whichever the answer, is it the right thing to do?
Some believe that this maybe a maneuvering undertaken so that the European or the Oceanic nations can continuously sustain their dominance in world hockey. This argument is supported by the fact that the Committee members from Europe, Oceania and North America seem to outnumber the others in the 11 Committees except maybe at the Appointment Committee.Here too, the FIH representatives seem more in number. Surprising is the Bid Committee where there are 1 from Europe, 2 from Australia and 3 from FIH, none from other regions. Such is the extend of their domination that it calls into question whether the other region is being fairly represented..
Of course nothing gets passed without the Executive Board's endorsement. Looking at the numbers there, the numbers from Europe, Oceania and North America is 18, while that of Asia, Africa and South America is 6. On the numbers game itself the domination of the Executive Board is self evident, as it is at the Committee levels.
There could be an argument that one of the elected Board member is from Asia i.e Singapore, FIH Vice President. This is a undeniable fact but a single elected voice cannot surmount the combined voices of others. Maybe this is a "dotted" representation to give a perception that Asia is right up in the right position. It must be said that the Asian Hockey Federation's (AHF) President is also a member of the Board by virtue of his position in Asia.
At the same time it must be recognised that majority of the countries in Asia, Africa and South America seem not to have an interest in what is happening in FIH. Their act of omission has provided a vacuum for the developed nations to take control of positions and impose what they feel is good for hockey. Their standard of measurement and yardsticks are of a different basis i.e more what they are used too. Inevitably, it does not come down well with the developing or poorer countries, for it has an impact on them either administratively, style of play, attire of play or costs. This effectively means these countries would need time to adopt to changes and once they get to master it, the rules and regulations seem to change again. Some wonder whether these changes are down to improve the game or more to ensure the dominance of hockey by certain regions.
The game of hockey has come a long way and it is now paying a price. Once a popular game in Asia, hockey is relegated compared to other games. It was a game that was played everywhere and anywhere but today it needs specialise pitches. It was an inexpensive game but today the attire is costly. Therefore unlike football or cricket, it cannot achieve its popularity it used to have. This is the price Asia pays and the young generation have taken an indifferent attitude to the game. Young stars are no more in abundance in Asia and the future does not look rosy. Is it good for world hockey?
Domination has its price and if the populous regions are left behind, the game suffers because the numbers are not there. This has an impact on sponsorship and ultimately the survival of the game. Finally it maybe confined to 2 or 3 regions of the world. Let it not come to that state in years to come.