Lausanne [Switzerland], January 25 (ANI): The International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Tuesday announced that France will join the third edition of the Men's FIH Hockey Pro League.
After Canada eventually pulled out due to COVID-related issues, FIH had contacted the next best teams, according to the FIH World Rankings, to invite one of them to replace Canada.
France have accepted the invitation and, as the highest-ranked team having done so, will join the global home-and-away league - 'Hockey at its Best' - for this season.
As communicated earlier, France's participation in the FIH Hockey Pro League is planned for this third edition only. Indeed, Australia and New Zealand, who are not playing the current season due to COVID-related international travel constraints, are expected to come back for the fourth edition (2022-2023).
The French team will play their first match on 8 February against India, in Potchefstroom (South Africa). The full match schedule of the third edition of the FIH Hockey Pro League is available.
France have qualified for the next FIH Odisha Hockey Men's World Cup, which will be played in January 2023 in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela (India). The French Men's Junior team recently claimed the bronze medal at the FIH Odisha Hockey Men's Junior World Cup Bhubaneswar 2021, with France captain Timothee Clement crowned Best Player of the Tournament.
France will also host the Paris 2024 Olympic events in 2 years' time.
"It is great news that France are joining the FIH Hockey Pro League for the current season. As hosts of the next Olympic Games, being part of such a top-flight competition involving the best teams in the world can only be a positive move for the French team as well as for the growth of hockey in the country", commented FIH CEO Thierry Weil.
The first FIH Hockey Pro League matches of the year will involve the Women's teams of China and India. They will take place on 31 January and 1 February in Muscat, Oman, where both teams are currently playing the Women's Asia Cup 2022. (ANI)