The FIH Executive Board met before the official start of the FIH Congress in Kuala Lumpur on Thursday. The major news to come out of the meeting was the decision to increase the number of participating nations at the 2018 World Cup to 16 men’s and 16 women’s squads.

There was a lot of research that went into the proposal to increase the field at the World Cup with competition format and the ability to find a host nation all making an impact. In the end, after a lengthy decision process, the Executive Board decided that an increase to 16 teams from the current 12-team format would best suit the growth of hockey. The Board will look into the possibility of increasing the field to 24 teams for each gender for the 2022 edition of the World Cup.

“The 16-team format is the best decision for the sport,” said FIH President Leandro Negre. “We have so many quality teams in the top-20 of our World Ranking that it will still be quite competitive to earn a berth to the World Cup even with the expanded field. This is a testament to the global development of hockey.”

Of particular interest is the fact that the 2018 World Cup will continue to feature the same number of women’s and men’s entries.

“It was a simple decision from that aspect to increase the field to 16 teams for both genders,” said Negre. “We are fortunate in hockey that we have no gender gap and that our women’s field is every bit as competitive as the men’s side.”

The 2014 World Cup, to be held in The Hague, Netherlands, will still host a 12-team field for both the men and women. The new 16-team format will take effect in 2018.