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'This is unacceptable': Ireland hockey team vow to pursue Olympic grievances as FIH have no plans to release additional camera angles

Sinking in: John Jackson reacts to Ireland's defeat in Canada
Sinking in: John Jackson reacts to Ireland's defeat in Canada
Gareth Hanna

By Gareth Hanna

The Irish men's hockey team has vowed to pursue their grievances after last weekend's controversial defeat to Canada in the Olympic qualifiers.

Mark Tumilty's side were denied a place at the 2020 Olympic Games by a contentious decision that awarded the hosts a last gasp penalty stroke in Vancouver.

Canadian James Wallace went over in the circle under an attempted tackle from Ireland's Lee Cole and when Diego Barbas awarded a stroke, Scott Tupper stepped up to send the match to a shoot-out, which Ireland lost.

The FIH's immediate reaction was to say that, in line with their Regulations for Top Tier Outdoor Competitions, "umpires' decisions are final" and that the organisation would not comment publicly on the penalty call.

On Thursday, a further statement was released to point out that "a minimum of six camera angles" had to have been available to Barbas 'in order to have a video umpire referral process in place'.

On further questioning by the Belfast Telegraph, the FIH confirmed that those specifications had indeed been met during Sunday's game, but they have as yet been unable to confirm the exact number of camera angles available.

The FIH also said that it is 'not planned' to release any additional camera angles to the public, who have only seen the one wide-angle shot and one close-up that were shown on the live broadcast.

It has also emerged that Mr Barbas was undertaking the video umpire role in an FIH game for only the second time.

The Ireland men's hockey team released a statement of their own on Friday, calling on the FIH to 'restore credibility in the Olympic qualification process' after what it viewed as a 'series of flaws' in the use of the video referral.

The statement said that the men's team would 'be pursuing' those grievances alongside Sport Ireland and Hockey Ireland.

"We would like to thank everyone for the outpouring of support and messages from around the world in relation to our Olympic qualifying match against Canada last Sunday," the statement read. "It is comforting to know so many people share our frustrations, sympathise with the position we find ourselves in and support our case for redress and reform.

"We believe the FIH have a duty to take action to restore credibility in the Olympic qualification process, to renew trust in the conduct of international hockey matches and to protect the integrity of both players and umpires.

"Given the importance of the video referral process, it was disappointing to witness a series of flaws in how the video referral was handles throughout the weekend. We feel particularly aggrieved at how the final moments of the game were managed and in particular the video referral system. We believe this is unacceptable in a fixture of this magnitude.

"In the meantime, we would like to wish our Irish ladies the best of luck in their Olympic qualifier this weekend. We know how hard you have worked for this and hope you get the reward you deserve. The nation is behind you."

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