FIH President Tayyab Ikram has hailed the success of the 2023 Men's Hockey World Cup ©Tayyab Ikram

Tayyab Ikram of Pakistan, President of the International Hockey Federation (FIH), has hailed the success of the 2023 Men's Hockey World Cup in India but insisted the event will not be expanding in the near future.

In a press conference at the Birsa Munda Hockey Stadium in Rourkela, Odisha, which has already hosted thrilling World Cup matches to packed crowds, Ikram commented:

"The FIH Hockey World Cups are getting bigger and bigger and the atmosphere and attendances in Rourkela are proof of that.

"The event is a great success not just because of the stadium being built and the infrastructure that supports the event, but because of the way it is transforming the community in Odisha. 

"I have had the opportunity to speak to local people in Rourkela and they wished to thank hockey for how beautiful the coming of the World Cup has made the city."

However, when asked about the possibility of expanding the World Cup, his response was a world away from the stance adopted by international bodies such as FIFA. 

"We have no specific plan on increasing the number of countries participating in the World Cup right now," he said.

"We may introduce it in the Junior World Cups.

"Hockey has never had specific continental World Cup qualifiers, which we also plan to introduce.

"This will make the World Cup ecosystem more structured, and it will allow more countries to chart a path to World Cup qualification.

"Expansion has to be done to improve the quality of hockey overall and not for the sake of expansion."

Ikram, who beat Belgium's Marc Coudron in an election on November 5 to complete the two-year term left by the resignation of India's Narinder Batra, hinted that the lavish facilities in Odisha might play host to other international competitions.

"I think we have a robust event calendar with the World Cups, Junior World Cups, Pro League and the new Nations Cup," he said. 

"There have been suggestions from around the world including those from India and Odisha for new events. 

"We are waiting for formal concrete proposals to start analysing them."

He was highly enthusiastic about the future of Hockey5s - the fast, short format variant adaptable to multiple surfaces and environments that was first developed for the 2014 Youth Olympics.

"Countries all over the world are accepting and adapting to Hockey5s," Ikram said.

"It is an important tool for the development of hockey.

"The Hockey5s showcase in Lausanne was hugely successful and we have had great stories from the Youth Olympic Games where the team from Zambia defeated a hockey powerhouse like Germany.

"The team from Canada, with self-financed athletes, managed to win a silver medal at the games in Nanjing, China.

"So Hockey5s is a great bridge for hockey all around the world and with the first Hockey5s World Cup happening in Oman in 2024, we will see the next step in the evolution of Hockey5s.

"Hockey5s is not a threat to indoor hockey in any way at all.

"We are trying to maximise all formats of hockey, which includes indoor hockey."

FIH President Tayyab Ikram describes Hockey5s as
FIH President Tayyab Ikram describes Hockey5s as "a great bridge" for hockey ©Getty Images

Asked about his main priorities in his two-year Presidential term, Ikram said the three main aims would be to engage with all 140 member federations with a view to their development, improving skills and post-career skills for players and developing new events to engage more widely in the world.

On the subject of making provisions for his own National Federation given its current financial difficulties, Ikram, who is chief executive of the Asian Hockey Federation, replied: "Pakistan is an important stakeholder in the world of hockey.

"The greatest sporting property in the world, irrespective of which sport, is India vs Pakistan," he said. 

"We are creating programmes for Pakistan and all other countries to give them opportunities to compete at the highest levels. 

"What we need is equal willingness from the countries as well in terms of developing hockey.

"The Hockey India model is perfect for countries trying to come up in the hockey world."