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Sept. 4, 2019 — Meet the new Pro League

The schedule for the 2020 FIH Pro League was announced today.

The United States women, having pretty much nowhere to go but up after finishing ninth and last in the Pro League table this year, will take on the same eight opponents: Argentina, Australia, Belgium, China, Germany, Holland, New Zealand, and England (since the next world-level competition is the World Cup, it is not an all-Great Britain side).

While the States take on the same eight opponents, the competition is different, as the  venues where the teams play will change from year to year. Next year, the United States will host Holland, Australia, China, and Germany, and then travel to England, Belgium, New Zealand, and Argentina. In 2021, the fixtures are reversed — assuming the same nine teams are in the Pro League by then.

FIH has also done something which is a little like FIFA when it comes to its international scheduling for this league. In soccer, international matchdays are built into the regular football calendar across all nations. In those international windows, it is expected that every national team will play someone else twice in the space of about three or four days.

Such is the case with the Pro League, where the teams will meet not just once on a match weekend, but twice at the same place, usually on a Friday/Sunday format. This keeps the Pro League at 16 games in duration.

The press release leaves some details out, and some very important ones, too. We don’t yet know if the Pro League will crown a champion every year in a Grand Final series, or whether the 2020 and 2021 Pro League will constitute a combined 32-game competition culminating in a biennial Grand Final, which could qualify teams into whatever mechanism FIH dreams up for the 2022 World Cup.

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