There were rumblings that the IIHF was considering increasing the number of team’s that would compete at the next IIHF Women’s World Championships, but today those rumors were confirmed.
The IIHF announced today that its member national associations ratified a proposal to increase the number of teams participating at the highest level of international women’s hockey from eight to ten for the 2019 world championships in Finland.
This means that all eight teams who were at Worlds this year will remain in the top division and no one will be relegated; Japan, which would have been promoted to the top tier this year, will be one of the new teams competing in 2019, and the other team will be determined at a later date.
This also impacts all the other divisions in international women’s hockey, though they will stay the same with six members in each division. Because there will be another team promoted up besides Japan, all winners of the divisions in the 2018 season will be promote, but no team will be relegated.
IIHF Council member Zsuzsanna Kolbenheyer said that this was a discussion that had been ongoing for roughly three years, and really began being considered after the success of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.
“We still can feel the gap between the North American teams and the rest of the world,” said Kolbenheyer in the IIHF’s press release. “However, the gap between the third and 15th team is not that big anymore. This is the next step to promote the women’s game.”
After this step, the IIHF says the next move would be to discuss with the International Olympic Committe about potentially increasing the number of team’s who compete in the 2022 Beijing Olympics from eight to ten teams as well.