Polo’s UK governing body will assess state of the game with Argentina’s leading players to discuss solutions and possible changes within the sport.
The move from Facundo Pieres to call for changes in the sport, and the subsequent agreement of Adolfo Cambiaso, will see the Hurlingham Polo Association, the sport’s UK governing body, meet with the world’s two leading players to discuss finding solutions.
David Woodd, the HPA’s chief executive, welcomed the comments from both 10-goal Argentine players, saying: “I think it’s really good news if you’ve got the two best players in the world saying they’d like to sit down and discuss things. That’s a move in itself.”
“I think it’s very encouraging. Congratulations also to the AAP for using English umpires at Palermo and the umpires concerned.”
Pieres, however, called for the laws to be interpreted in different continents in a ‘unified way’, rather than criticising umpires per se.
Woodd believes broader interpretation of the levels of polo may need looking at by umpires and the governing bodies employing them.
He said: “The words are always going to be difference because the English language is different to the American language, but we are pretty much on one set of rules in the way the game is played. If we are going to have umpires coming here and going there, whether it’s to England, America or Argentina or whatever, it’s tough on them if the game isn’t played the same way.
“I think what Pieres may be saying is that there is a difference in the way the game needs to be umpired across the 6-goal level, 12-goal level, 22-goal level and 40-goal level. One has to bear in mind that in Argentina you will have four professionals on the field and there is nobody on the field who is going slowly. They’re all young and fit and going flat out. It is a slightly different game to what we have here at the 22-goal level. It needs a different take on the umpiring.”
Pieres also called on Palermo, in December, becoming a beefed-up spectacle. Pieres cited the add-ons at the major high goal tournaments in the UK.
“I would say the difference between the Gold Cup and the Open is that those who go to watch the Open are definitely going to watch the polo rather than going to a party.
“I would agree that Palermo and the Open could be made much more of in a corporate way but they are very limited in space. They’re not going to want to put stuff on the number two ground. There’s not a lot of space for them to do anything corporate wise. I think they’ve improved it hugely with their new boxes and the corporate level of the stands there.”
As for the dominance of just a few teams, in both Argentina and England, which Pieres believes is damaging the game, Woodd added: “These things do turn over, but you do have two teams in Argentina who are dominating it and the other teams you could say don’t have much chance.
“But, on the other hand, two years ago Alegria got into the final and surprised everybody and that drove ticket sales up a fair bit. You’ve obviously got Dubai and King Power now dominating English polo.
“I know that rugby union has tried to cap what people can be paid. I think that’s a difficult route. The handicapping of players is the number one way (of levelling the teams) but they’re never going to handicap the Open, I wouldn’t imagine. We would certainly like to talk to Facundo and Adolfo because it’s important for them that the English season is interesting and competitive. They’re a big part of the sport. We can’t ignore what the top players are saying.”