Pakistan have lost their position in the FIH Pro League ©Getty Images

Pakistan have been removed from the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Pro League after they informed the sport's worldwide governing body they were unable to fulfill their opening three matches of the first edition of the tournament.

In a statement, the FIH said Pakistan had been suspended from the men's competition "in order not to jeopardise the regularity and the smooth delivery of the event".

The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) told the FIH the team "were no longer able" to play their first three games - against Argentina, Australia and New Zealand - due to "inevitable circumstances".

The FIH confirmed Pakistan would not be replaced and the men's Pro League tournament, launched with the curtain-raising match between Spain and Belgium in Valencia last Saturday (January 19), would proceed with eight teams.

FIH chief executive Thierry Weil criticised the PHF for giving the organisation late notice of their inability to take part in their first three matches.

"It is regretful that Pakistan has decided only now to withdraw from the first games of the FIH Pro League," Weil said. 

"Consequently, FIH were left with no other option than suspending Pakistan from the rest of the competition’s season. 

"At this stage, I would like to thank all participating National Associations who had adapted their schedules to support a solution for Pakistan to join the competition this year."

The news does not come as a surprise as reports surfaced earlier this year that the PHF was considering withdrawing from the Pro League owing to a lack of funds.

But it marks a blow to both the FIH and the Pro League, lauded as a "game-changer" for the sport.

Pakistan named their Pro League squad earlier this week despite growing uncertainty over their participation ©Getty Images
Pakistan named their Pro League squad earlier this week despite growing uncertainty over their participation ©Getty Images

Appeals to the Government from the PHF for financial assistance to ensure they could take part were ignored.

Teams which wanted to participate in the event had to give financial assurances to the FIH as part of the selection process.

Pakistan were scheduled to play all of their Pro League games away from home due to security issues in the country, which Weil admitted had contributed to the financial concerns at the PHF, after a deal to stage their matches in Scotland collapsed.

The extensive travel is thought to have contributed to the financial problems for the PHF.

Despite ongoing concerns over their participation, Pakistan named their Pro League squad earlier this week.

Pakistan also nearly pulled out of last year's World Cup in India due to funding issues.

The PHF was eventually saved by a last-minute sponsorship deal but the issue plagued their preparations, with reports claiming the facilities at the team's training camp were sub-par.

The debacle saw Shahbaz Ahmed resign as PHF secretary general after the tournament, while Khalid Khokar remains President despite the ongoing problems.

The Pro League, a new home and away competition, will run through to June.

The men's and women's finals, which will crown the first winners, are scheduled to be held in Amsterdam from June 27 to 30.