Archive for July 12th, 2018

July 12, 2018



2017 FIH announces restructuring of Committees and Panels to support the Hockey Revolution. More about this report later. First, a look at the role of the Hockey Rules Board in the issuing of Rules and Interpretations as presented in this 2002 FIH report, which is linked to the 2017 restructuring because it continues unchanged. (The HRB was renamed the FIH Rules Committee after 2011, the 2013 Rules of Hockey were issued, by the same Committee personnel, under the new name)


Report of the Hockey Rules Board.

HRB Authority of 2001-2

The text of the report (in blue) with added comment (in italics).


In line with our overall aims, the last two years have, on the one hand, been a period of transition for the Hockey Rules Board (HRB) — while on the other it has been a period of relative consolidation. The transition has focused on incorporation of research and development of the rules within the active remit of the HRB rather than in a separate but linked Rules Advisory Panel, which has now been disbanded. At the same time, the rules themselves have been through a period of consolidation rather than significant change. But this does not mean that the HRB has not been active, as the following report will testify.

Rules Changes

One change, which has been significant, at least as measured by the range of views about it, is allowing the edge of the stick to be used to play the ball. This change was introduced as a mandatory experiment in 1999 and was continuously reviewed. Views about it ranged from a welcome for an action which gave players more options and which in particular could be used for exciting shots at goal, to concern that it might lead to danger or could damage sticks. Making a. decision involved a delicate and careful balance of these issues, with the HRB deciding that the experiment should run for a third year but that, with effect from 2002, the change would be incorporated as a formal rule.

Comment. If the aim was to increase options and dangerous play was a concern it is very strange that a deletion of the ‘backsticks’ Rule was not considered – or if considered, ruled out. That would be a welcome simplification especially for novice players and would be no more dangerous, in fact probably less so, than the permitted playing of the ball with a stick edge.

Another change, which deserves comment, was the introduction in 2001 of a rule, which explicitly makes manufacturing a foul an offence. This reflects an ongoing concern by the HRB to protect skill and encourage attractive hockey by reducing negative and destructive actions.

Comment. This rule was eventually deleted because umpires refused to penalise forced contacts, preferring instead to penalise, for ball body contact the player a ball had been forced into (it was declared that they could not with certainty see intent to force a contact. Right or wrong they preferred a simple objective criteria for determining offence). The subjective judgement ‘gains benefit’ or ‘gains an advantage’ has always suffered in application because some umpires have insisted on and persisted in treating all ball-body contact as a offence: turning the criteria from a subjective one “Was there intent or advantage gained” into an objective one “Was there ball body contact?” and inverting the way in which Rule 9.11 is supposed to be applied. Forcing ball-foot or ball-leg contact is no longer seen as a negative or destructive action (which it is) but as a skill and a legitimate means of ‘winning’ a penalty against opponents – which is bizarre because forcing is still an offence. The Rule was deleted (because any action of this sort can be dealt with under other Rules). so obviously, the offence was not deleted.

Rules Interpretations

The HRB recognises that hockey is a complex game and that, despite good intentions and continuous review, its rules sometimes require interpretation. There has been a tendency in the past for some interpretations to emerge from individuals and bodies other than the HRB. However, it is now agreed that the sole source of such information should be the HRB. (my bold).

Comment. This announcement was probably made necessary by the activities of the Rules Advisory Panel and a so called ‘mafia’ of top level umpires, who are mentioned in the video below (how the four of them with three languages between them – English, Dutch and Afrikaans – dealt with ‘interpretation’ worldwide, when in their opinion the FIH  could not /cannot, is not revealed). That Hadfield was asked to sort out a dispute over a Rule meaning because of the placement of a comma, as she claims she was, is absurd. It is unlikely that any of the four ‘mafioso’ is an expert in either syntax or semantics. It is also strange that someone who declares the wording of the Rules to be inconsequential would accept the task of adjudicating a Rule for meaning based on punctuation (an ego trip?). The obvious person to approach about the meaning and purpose of a Rule is the person who drafted it, and at the time that person would have been the late George Croft the Hon. Sec. of the HRB. The thing could have been resolved easily and cheaply by fax message even in the era before email became widespread – what is written into the rule-book does matter (how can it not matter?) – interpretation (by anyone) does not change what is written in the rule book. Interpretation of any given text, on the other hand, can change from one individual to another and from one game to another.

Despite the Hockey Rules Board producing Rules for the approval of the FIH Executive, in liaison with the FIH Umpires Committee it is no surprise to discover that Graham Nash – who was Chair of the Umpiring Committee in the 1990’s – advised umpires to throw their rule-books away (and replaced the content of them with what?). In the circumstances I wonder how sincere his liaison with the HRB was.

I have no hesitation being confrontational and even aggressive about this sort of pernicious nonsense being presented as umpire coaching. Listening to Jan Hadfield’s entire presentation I detected some of the rubbish I have seen Keely Dunn produce on various internet hockey forums, so I suspect that Jan Hadfield was the mentor Dunn used to run back to in her early Internet hockey forum days, to confirm an opinion she had given on the forum, in other words Dunn is probably one of Hadfield’s victims. Another would be the Russian umpire Elena Eskina who during the 2010 Women’s World Cup (Hadfield was the Umpire Manager) – insisted, would not budge from the view, that an on target shot at the goal could not be considered to be dangerous play (when it certainly was). One of Hatfield’s oft repeated approving remarks is “Taking the whistle out of the game.” (said in regard to obstruction and also to the raised hit, in other parts of the presentation -second and fourth videos below) an appropriate interpretation of this remark would be “We are ignoring these offences” or “We are ignoring major parts of both of these Rules”. But why? Why?

Because of inserts sound on the videos is a second or two out of sync with motion.

Rule 9.9 Players must not intentionally raise the ball from a hit except for a shot at goal.
A raised hit must be judged explicitly on whether or not it is raised intentionally.

Endangering another player by raising the ball towards that player (with any stroke) is an additional and separate offence:- see Rule 9.9. “Taking the whistle out of the game” by penalising an illegal intentionally raised hit only when it is also dangerous play is the deliberate ignoring of a clear Rule instruction by means of what is called ‘interpretation’ – but which is in no sense interpretation. The goal given in the above video clip should not have been awarded because the intentionally raised hit pass was a foul that disadvantaged opponents. The UMB advice  forget lifted – think danger (interpreted to mean think only of danger, ignoring disadvantage) is a contradiction of Rule.9.9. and as such is unacceptable.


Comment The  very low key Rules Interpretations announcement:-

The HRB recognises that hockey is a complex game and that, despite good intentions and continuous review, its rules sometimes require interpretation. There has been a tendency in the past for some interpretations to emerge from individuals and bodies other than the HRB. However, it is now agreed that the sole source of such information should be the HRB.

attempted (obviously without any success at all) to change the practice of senior umpires working to their own personal interpretations of the meaning of the wording of the Rules and Interpretations provided in the rule-book. Working with and on the HRB/FIH RC must have been and be, one of the most frustrating tasks in hockey – every senior umpire, even when they differ from each other, believes he or she ‘knows better’ than the FIH Committee that drafts the Rules and the FIH Executive who approve them. Maybe they do, but in that case they should be a lobby for Rule change and Rule improvement, not a conduit for subversion. No matter how frustrating achieving change via a committee might prove to be the alternative is worse, it is anarchy.

Umpire interpretation must be restricted to the interpretation of the actions taken by players in relation to written instruction received via the FIH Rules Committee in the Rules of Hockey. A problem that gets in the way of this approach is the (unnecessary) interpretation of the word interpretation. When umpires find themselves with various ‘interpretations’ of what is given in the rule-book as Interpretation or Explanation of Rule Application something is seriously amiss. Such instructions should be clear enough not to require additional interpretation. That they are not is clearly a matter that the FIH Rules Committee (when necessary, for translation purposes, in consultation with National Associations) needs to address.

An FIH Executive Circular sent to all National Associations in mid 2002 used much more forceful language concerning the sole authority of the HRB, but the content of that Circular was quickly forgotten. This information needed to be printed in all subsequent rule-books, not just issued in a one-off Circular which would not be widely read – and might even be deliberately withheld from most participants. Hadfield does not mention it, she may even be unaware of it or, more likely, dismissed it as interference.

I am intrigued by her assertion that both the FIH Rules Committee and the Umpiring Committee contain ‘political’ appointees who have no umpiring experience whatsoever, as the assertion is untrue – and it is certainly not the reason (or even a reason) for confusion about the application of Rules over the past few years. People in glass houses should not throw stones – it is without doubt the culture of ‘interpretation’ spread by Umpire Managers and other senior umpires (and sadly by the FIH Umpiring Committee) that is the cause of confusion. I wonder what the people who attended that coaching seminar thought about it when they had time to reflect on the content of it – what did they learn from it that would be of use to them as umpires when they had thrown their rule-books away?

In parallel with this agreement, the interpretations in the rules book were revised for the 2002 publication. Among other things, they incorporate material, which had formerly been published in FIH umpires briefing papers. More generally, the interpretations were rationalised and simplified. It is hoped that, together with other measures reported elsewhere, this will contribute to a more accurate and consistent interpretation and application of the rules.

Comment. So a separately published UMB should have become unnecessary (is unnecessary). Simplification of the Rules meant, for the most part deletion, and there was precious little clarification (more would probably have increased the number of words used to explain the purposes of Rules – but so what?). The Rules and Interpretations were not rationalised – they still contain irrational statements, misplaced Rule clauses and also contradictions. The FIH Rules Committee are working under difficult circumstances (they have no enforcement ‘teeth’) and are obviously not appreciated, but these are not excuses for not doing a much better job of clear communication.

Review of the Presentation and Style of the Rules

A desire to achieve a clearer understanding of the rules by all involved in the game has led to a project to review the presentation and layout of the rules book. Among other things, it is intended that the rules will be more closely linked to interpretations and that interpretations will be further simplified. Other changes will include a section bringing together material of particular interest to umpires. Work on this review is a very labour intensive activity but is well underway. An advanced draft will be considered by the HRB in November 2002, with the new layout and content incorporated in the 2003 publication.

There was a rewrite and reformatting of the rule-book in 2004, which overall, I now regard as an act of vandalism. The aims set out above were not achieved.

It is worth noting that both the rules and an informal guide to the rules are included on the FIH web site.

Rules Development and Trials Discussions

The HRB include a wide range of options for development of the rules but it is wise to carry forward only a small number at any one time. Over the last two years the focus has therefore been on a trial, which requires three players always to be outside their defending 23 metres area. This is therefore a way of limiting the number of defenders allowed in the 23 metres area.

Although feedback has been varied and refers to a range of factors, the positive indications are that as a consequence the 23 metres and circle areas are less crowded and more attacking opportunities occur.There are also other beneficial effects such as a reduction in the frequency of hard hits into the circle. The trial is therefore continuing and includes plans to use it in a small number of appropriate international tournaments.

Comment. This idea (a sort of inverted off-side) seems to have ‘sunk without trace’, which is not a surprise, as it must have been difficult to enforce without additional officials to observe play for compliance. The ‘three up’ trial was an odd inclusion on top of the deletion of the Off-side Rule only a few years earlier, a deletion which had given a huge advantage to the attacking team and threw up potential dangers to the members of the defending team without the promised “constraints” on the actions of attackers ever materializing.

Why it was though hard hits into the circle would be reduced by this measure is a mystery to me. Why a committee that was concerned about hard hits into the opponent’s circle in 2002 should (in 2012) introduce the, short lived, Own Goal is another mystery. The problem with giving a reason for doing or not doing something is that it is necessary to remember when and why the reason was given and in which direction previous change was made, the FIH have not been good at that, flips between one extreme and another have been commonplace since the early 1990’s – an archive of previous rule books might have been of help to them.

Consultation and Commitment

Associated with its more explicit responsibility for rules development, the HRB is keen to hear the views of the hockey community. It is therefore responding positively to a concern that the rules are sometimes not applied uniformly and appropriately especially in major tournaments. A circular was sent to all national associations and continental federations in the middle of 2002 seeking their views on this matter and also on wider ideas for rules development. These views will be the focus of a workshop involving representatives of NAs and CFs to be held alongside the 2002 Congress.

This reflects the HRB’s commitment to being open to ideas and to taking steps to support the development of the game while preserving its attractive and distinguishing features.

The HRB’s Ongoing Role This report has concentrated on the major focuses of HRB activity over the last two years but must also acknowledge the considerable amount of more detailed work undertaken by it members and officers. But there is still more to be done in the context of the overall aims of the HRB.

Manzoor Atif Chairman, Hockey Rules Board


2017.   FIH announces restructuring of Committees and Panels to support the Hockey Revolution.           Jason McCracken CEO.


Restructuring of FIH Committees 2017

Comment. Whether or not the restructuring of various FIH Committees and the creation of new ones will have any effect at all on the authority invested in the FIH Rules Committee by the FIH Executive is unclear, but there seems to be no reason to suppose that there is any change. Umpire Managers can of course be expected, in the absence of any action to prevent them doing so, to continue to ignore the authority of the FIH Rules Committee in favour of their own opinions (interpretations).

∙ New Panels and Committees announced to progress the FIH strategy
∙ Gender equality integral to new nomination process
∙ New membership to be approved by Board in June 2017

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has announced changes to its Committee and Panel structures that oversee the management and development of the sport to align with the Hockey Revolution strategy.

All Committee and Panel membership has been disbanded, with the exception of the Athletes’ Committee, Judicial Commission and Disciplinary Commissioner. New Panels and Committees have been introduced, some have been refined and others have been completely removed from the new structure.

As a result FIH will be calling on nominations for all Committees. This year however there will be an extra emphasis on gender equality as Hockey’s 10-year Hockey Revolution strategy further integrates recommendations outlined by the International Olympic Committee and in Olympic Agenda 2020.

A prerequisite of each Committee is that each continent has representation and the Continental Federations will be asked to nominate one male and one female candidate from their region for consideration.

Whilst Committees will require continental nominations, Panels will be appointed directly by FIH, with all membership to be approved at the next FIH Executive Board meeting in June 2017.

Several new Panels have been created as part of the new structure and are designed to modernise and enhance the competency of hockey’s governing body. These include: International Relations & Olympic Solidarity Panel; Event Portfolio Implementation Panel: Home & Away League Management Panel and Commercial and Broadcast Panel.

A newly established Officials Committee has also been created. This Committee combines the Appointments Committee, Technical Officials development and appointments (formerly part of the Competitions Committee) and Umpiring Committee.

The HR & Governance Panel has been separated, with a new HR & Remuneration Panel created and a stand-alone Governance Panel established.

A significant development has been to widen the remit of the Medical Panel to a new Health & Safety Panel. It will look at not only medical matters for athletes but athlete health, safety and welfare both on and off the pitch.

The Competitions Committee will develop and implement the new regulations required to support the new Event Portfolio announced under the Hockey Revolution strategy.

Several other Panels have been abolished, with many of the responsibilities now being undertaken in-house. These include the Masters Panel as well as the High Performance & Coaching Panel, an area that the FIH Hockey Academy is currently managing.

With a new President. Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra, elected in November 2016 followed by the appointment of a new CEO. Jason Mccracken. three months later. hockey’s new leadership team took the opportunity to review and restructure the governance structure to support the FIH’s strategy.

Speaking about this. FIH President Dr Narinder Dhruv Batra said: “We are grateful to all of those who have given up their time to support our sport through Panels and Committees over the past years. Their contributions have helped the sport reach great heights. However. with the new event portfolio now in implementation mode we took the decision to refresh this structure at what is a crucial time for our sport. I am confident that these changes will help our sport continue to grow over the coming years. We look forward to receiving nominations over the coming months and announcing the new Committee and Panel membership after the June
Executive Board meeting.”

FIH CEO Jason McCracken added: “It was critical that the FIH aligned our Committee and Panel structure to support the Hockey Revolution. With this new structure in place we are moving quickly to implement the new Event Portfolio, build our commercial and broadcast proposition while focusing on athlete and officials’ welfare. We are excited about the new structure and now the hard work begins to find the very best people, who share our vision. to join the new Committee and Panels as we move to the implementation phase of the new Event Portfolio.”                 (More information about the make up of Committees is available on the FIH website)

Jason McCracken resigned as CEO the following December.

There is no mention in the above document of the FIH Rules Committee but it still exists and in the absence of information to the contrary,  it’s remit and authority are unchanged. i.e they remain as announced in 2002. Only the FIH Rules Committee can make or amend Rule and/or Interpretation for publication after approval of it by the FIH Executive – no one else.

The FIH Competitions Committee are responsible for issuing Tournament Regulations (not the Rules of Hockey). Apart from the length of suspension given with personal penalty cards, these Regulations have no bearing on umpiring or the Conduct of Play during a hockey match.