FIH has published the latest Rules of Hockey agreed at the Executive Board meeting at the FIH Congress on 30th October 2014. They are available for worldwide adoption and effective at international level from 1st January 2015. The two Rule changes are as follows:
• The ability to take attacking free hits, awarded within 5 metres of the edge of the circle, from the point of the offence. The change states that the ball still has to travel at least 5 metres before it can be played into the circle, or alternatively has to be touched by another player of either team, other than the player taking the free hit
• The second change concerns the re-start, after the ball has unintentionally been played over the back-line by a defender or deflected by a goalkeeper or player with goalkeeping privileges, and no goal is scored. Play will now be re-started with the ball on the 23 metres line and in line with where it crossed the back-line. Taking the re-start from the 23 metres line will open up the play and give more passing options.
Other rule changes to help improve player safety have also been made, including the rules governing the wearing of facemasks to defend penalty corners which have been amended to increase player safety. A wider range of masks, including metal grill masks, will now be allowed to be used.
As part of FIH’s drive to increase following and create entertaining events, FIH is aligning the Rules of Hockey with the Tournament Regulations that govern playing conditions wherever possible. The aim of this move is to reduce the number of variations between the Rules of Hockey and the Tournament Regulations, avoiding unnecessary confusion for players and fans alike.
The latest Rules of Hockey will incorporate the following Tournament Regulations:
1. Green Card – two minute suspension
The two minute green card will now provide an additional management aid to umpires at all levels
2. Stick above the shoulder
The skill adds another dimension to the sport and provides excitement for fans and players alike
3. Maximum length of Stick
The length of stick, as measured from the top of the stick to the bottom of the head, shall not be more than 105cm
4. Breaking of a Penalty Corner
The breaking at penalty corners Regulation has effected a significant reduction in the number of breaks at Tournaments, by both attackers and defenders
In general, all current Tournament Regulations governing playing conditions have been adopted into the Rules of Hockey with the exception of regulations that require specialist equipment or officials that might not be available at all hockey pitches. These currently include Match Periods (4 x 15 Minute Quarters and time stoppages for the award of Penalty Corners and Goals), the Penalty Corner Countdown Clock and Video Umpire, which will only be used at FIH World level Tournaments where the contracted full television coverage and facilities enable a viable system.
FIH CEO Kelly Fairweather explains the approach: “FIH is taking this action to remove unnecessary confusion for fans, players, coaches and officials. Our ambition is a global game that is relevant to the next generation and to achieve this ambition we must make it as easy as possible for fans to be fans and for players to enjoy playing”.