Belgium and the Netherlands are promising an “unforgettable spectacle” after their combined bid to host the 2026 men’s and women’s World Cup was given the green light on Thursday.
Their submission scuppered several standalone submissions, including England Hockey and Wales Hockey, who had jointly bid to host an innovative men’s World Cup.
It will be the first time that a combined World Cup will have been hosted since the Hague staged the event in 2014, widely billed as one of the most successful tournaments.
“Our countries do not only border on each other, we also both have the same hockey climate with fantastic associations and many enthusiastic hockey fans,’ said Erik Gerritsen, general manager of the KNHB (Dutch hockey federation).
“The travel distance between the two stadiums is only two hours, which means that teams and fans in Belgium and the Netherlands can experience a great tournament with equal attention for both the women and the men at both locations.”
The combined event will take place in July or August 2026 in Amsterdam/Amstelveen and Wavre, with women and men teams playing in both venues. It is understood that Dutch hockey officials are set to update the Wagener Stadium, while the Wavre facility, set to hold 10,000, will be ready in time for the tournament.
The proposed format for the match schedule, will see host nations playing each day, with the FIH admitting that the Dutch/Belgian bid had a “particularly solid financial foundation”.
The England and Wales joint bid would have seen a Finals weekend take place at Tottenham Hotspur’s stadium with other matches being staged at Twickenham Stoop, cinch Stadium at Franklin Gardens in Northampton and Cardiff Arms Park in Wales as part of Big Stadium Hockey.
Nick Pink, England Hockey’s chief executive, said: “Whilst we are obviously disappointed with the decision, we are proud of our bid and the transformational opportunities it offered the sport.
“We are all determined to take forward the planning from our bid around social impact and legacy which will help grow the game and give more people from more diverse communities the chance to play and watch the sport.”
The Dutch have a strong recent history of staging vibrant tournaments. As do Belgium, with Antwerp staging a very successful 2019 EuroHockey Championships, with the fan zone well attended.
Serge Pilet, Belgian hockey federation’s chief executive, said: “With the success of the last European Championships and of the Women’s World Cup in mind, we are firmly convinced that this World Cup will once again be an unforgettable spectacle and innovative event.
“In the centre of hockey-crazed Europe and with the well-known numerous and loud fans of the Oranje Legion and the Red Tribe, this World Cup will be an unprecedented hockey party. We are already going to work hard.”