‘No protest at this point’ from Ireland after Britain’s women’s hockey team had 12 players on pitch

Irish grievance over playoff at Olympic qualifying tournament in Spain is highly unlikely to go anywhere

Contrary to one claim by an English hockey outlet on Sunday, Ireland have not – yet – submitted an official protest after Britain’s women briefly had 12 players on the pitch in the sides’ third-place playoff at the Olympic qualifying tournament in Valencia, Spain, on Saturday.

Irish Hockey are still of the view that “the error had no material impact on the end result” which was a 2-1 win for Britain, ending Ireland’s hopes of making it to Paris this summer. But despite that view, and despite there being no apparent avenue for a protest to be lodged at this stage, according to the International Hockey Federation’s rules, Irish Hockey still has not ruled out attempting to submit one.

“No protest at this point as we’re still in discussions with FIH [International Hockey Federation],” said a spokesman on Monday when asked about the situation. “The focus is still on understanding what happened, how it happened, what could have been done to avoid it, etc.”

When asked to clarify “no protest at this point”, and whether that might mean one could yet be lodged, he said that that decision was “with the head coach and high-performance director, where they get to and how their conversations with FIH go”.


By the FIH’s calculations Britain had an extra outfield player for “50 seconds within the final two minutes in the third quarter”, as it told The Hockey Paper on Monday. “This followed a multiple player substitution and was unfortunately not noticed by either team or the technical officials.”

No goals were scored in that 50-second period so Britain didn’t benefit from the infraction, although Ireland might argue that having one too many British bodies on the pitch hardly helped their efforts to score at the other end.

But the rules are clear enough. “If a team has more than the permitted number of players on the field, time should be stopped to correct the situation. A personal penalty may be awarded against the captain of the team involved if inadvertently having too many players on the pitch occurs for a very short period of time and does not materially affect the match.” There’s no question of a replay or the overturning of the result.

In its statement to The Hockey Paper, the FIH apologised for the incident, and said a review is being carried out into it, adding that “according to the tournament regulations such a match incident cannot be protested or appealed”.

There are precedents here, among them England’s defeat to Argentina in the bronze-medal playoff at the 2014 men’s world cup. Argentina had 12 players on the pitch for more than two minutes, but their 2-0 win stood when the FIH dismissed England’s protest, deeming the transgression “unintentional”. Argentina’s only punishment was a one-match ban for their captain.

Whatever grievance Ireland might have over that 50 second 12-player spell, it’s highly unlikely to go anywhere.

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