Hockey on course to go professional

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The Independent Online

The rulers of international hockey have passed new eligibility rules that will pave the way for professional players.

The International Federation (Fih) said that under the new rules, players will no longer be denied the chance to represent their countries at major tournaments if they are receiving money from the sport.

Els van Breda Vriesman, the secretary-general of Fih said the demand that players maintain amateur status was no longer relevant.

"It is not a reflection of the real world anymore. We know of players who are paid to be coaches, of players who have tournament victories rewarded with cash payments to trust funds or with other bonuses," she said.

"This may be seen as the first step towards professionalism in hockey, but we believe the path is a long, long journey."

The new rules allow for cash or special prizes other than medals to be awarded at Fih invitaional events, but only if the Fih gives its approval.

They must be awarded specifically to the national association of the team, not to individual team members.