International Hockey Federation (FIH) CEO Thierry Weil broke his silence on the Hockey Stars Awards controversy. It came after Indian players dominated the award ceremony. Of the eight categories in the Hockey Star Award, India bagged six silverware pieces. It was strange to watch them win more than the Olympic men’s champions Belgium and women’s gold medallists The Netherlands.
Hockey Belgium, whose players finished second in three categories, led the protests. The Red Lions took to their social media handle to question the legitimacy of the voting process. The post read:
"A gold-winning team with multiple nominees in all categories but doesn't win a single award demonstrates the failure of the voting system. This is not normal! The credibility and image of our sport is once again facing hard times.".
Weil clarified that the voting system is pretty much similar to what is applied successfully by other organizations.
“If, in an Olympic year, the Gold medallists don’t win any Award and another nation gets all of them, it is clear that this won’t come across well! Therefore, I of course do understand the disappointment and also, to some extent, the anger, especially of the teams concerned,” Weil was quoted by FIH as saying.
“But this process – as long as it is implemented by everybody – should work. It is very similar to what is applied successfully by other organizations. It gives the chance to major hockey stakeholders – teams, players, coaches, fans and media – to cast a vote for the most important yearly awards in global hockey, while a higher weight is given to national team coaches and captains."
Weil says “Hockey Star Awards voting process was explained”
This time the voting process had a slight change from previous years. Firstly, the Hockey Federation made it compulsory for the National Associations that their votes should come from the national team coaches and captains.
Secondly, the panel choosing the FIH Coach of the Year and Player of the Year was the same. Previously, there was a different selection committee for both the awards.
He said this way, the FIH increased the legitimacy of the award.
“I believe that everybody will agree that this was the right thing to do in order to increase the technical legitimacy of the vote,” Weil said.
Weil claimed that FIH had explained the voting process in detail as well as the weight given to various voting groups.
Meanwhile, the FIH CEO congratulated all the players for winning the Hockey Awards.
“At the same time, I want to congratulate the winners! They were all nominated by an expert committee – made of FIH, FIH Athletes Committee and high performance representatives – and therefore were as much entitled as the others to win,” he said.