Italy women’s hockey team are on their way to London after they became the latest team to qualify for the Women’s Hockey World Cup, which will take place at the Lee Valley Hockey Centre on the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park next July and August.
Italy, ranked 15th in the world, finished in sixth position in the Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Brussels, meaning they faced an anxious wait to see if that was good enough to earn them qualification to the blue riband event that takes place in London next year from 21 July to 5 August.
The results at the Pan American Cup, which took place in Lancaster, Pennsylvania, have gone in favour of Italy as the tournament winners – Argentina – have already qualified for the World Cup via the Hockey World League route. Had their opponents Chile won the tournament, then they would have taken the next qualification place.
Under FIH regulations, the team that wins its continental qualifier automatically qualifies for the World Cup. If that team has already qualified by finishing in the top five of the Hockey World League Semi-Finals – as Argentina did by finishing fourth at the Hockey World League Semi-Finals in Johannesburg – then the place is offered to the next highest finisher in the competition, in this case, Italy.
The Women's Hockey World Cup 2018 will be Italy's second appearance at the World Cup. The last time Italy qualifed was in 1976 when they finished 10th.
There are still four more continental qualifiers to be played so four more places remain up for grabs.
The continental qualifiers are: Women’s Rabobank EuroHockey Championships 18-26 August 2017, Oceania Cup 9-15 October (final dates to be confirmed); Women’s Africa Cup of Nations 19 / 29 October (final dates to be confirmed. Women’s Asia Cup 28 October - 5 November 2017.