The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has announced the 2018 and 2022 editions of the World Cup will feature 16 teams instead of 12 in a bid to boost participation at the tournament.
The Executive Board of hockey’s worldwide governing body gave the green light to the changes at the FIH Hockey Revolution Part II Conference and Congress in Dubai last month.
Officials have also confirmed all international matches played from January 1 will be held over four quarters of 15 minutes.
The decision was made by the Executive Board, following recommendations from the FIH Competitions Committee, but was not implemented during the recent men’s Junior Hockey World Cup in India.
Coaches and players were critical of the FIH for using two halves of 35 minutes format at the tournament, won by the host nation.
However, the FIH claimed that the “decision was made too close to the start of the Hockey Junior World Cups, which is why those competitions were still played using the existing Rules of Hockey relating to two halves of 35 minutes”.
The 2018 women’s and men’s World Cups in England and India respectively will be the first competition staged under the expanded 16-team format, with four groups of four, allowing the FIH to hold the event over 16 days, which will include three weekends.
It is designed to increase the amount of spectators for the FIH’s flagship quadrennial competition outside of the Olympic Games.
As a result of the alteration, the winners of each pool will qualify for the quarter-finals while the other four spots in the last eight will be decided by crossovers of the second and third placed sides, with the losers exiting the competition.
The changes were given the green light at the Congress in Dubai, where the organisation also revealed further details of the new global home and away league, the replacement for the Hockey World League Semi-Finals and Finals and the Champions Trophy.
Earlier this week, the top 16 ranked nations in men’s and women’s hockey were invited to submit an application to enter the competition, due to launch in January 2019.
The sport’s worldwide governing body has claimed "detailed eligibility" criteria has been sent out to Member Federations.
They have warned any interested nation must be able to demonstrate "evidence of financial sustainability", describing it as "critical" for those who are considering entering the event.
The name of the league has not yet been decided, while the FIH are set to reveal the competing nations in June 2017.