** Pictured at today’s launch are Anouk Raes, Ludo van Campenhout Sports (Alderman of the City of Antwerp), EHF President Marijke Fleuren, Belfius’s Mieke Debeerst, Belgian Hockey CEO Serge Pilet and Thomas Briels

The groups and schedule for the 2019 Belfius EuroHockey Championships were unveiled this morning at the Havenhuis in the Port of Antwerp, laying the foundation for another spectacular edition of the continental tournament.

The competition will run from Friday, 16 August to Sunday, 25 August with 40 top class matches taking place in the Belgian city, with the winners of both the men and women’s events guaranteed of an Olympic ticket.

Serge Pilet, CEO of Belgium Hockey, was delighted to launch the build-up to the event which will be one of the highlights of the 2019 hockey calendar.

“This event is a fantastic promotion for hockey,” he said. “We are counting on all sport enthusiasts, not just from hockey, to come together and support our national teams in their efforts, especially because the title of Champion of Europe will be synonymous with qualification to the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.”

Chief Communications and Customer Experience director of Belfius Bank & Insurance Mieke Debeerst is delighted that her company will be the title sponsor of the event: “As a sponsor of ARBH (Royal Belgian Hockey Association), Belfius is particularly proud and happy that the 2019 EuroHockey Championships will take place in Belgium.

“This tournament offers us a unique opportunity to encourage our young Belgian talent from up close. Our national teams will do their best to make this EuroHockey Championships a success.”

EHF President Marijke Fleuren, meanwhile, says it is another important moment in the rise of hockey in Belgium: “We are delighted that Belgium and City of Antwerp will host the next edition of the EuroHockey Championships. It is particularly special given the 10 year journey Belgium Hockey has made, starting with the GOLDEN goal of Jerôme Truyens 7 seconds ahead of time in Manchester through to the magnificent tournament in Boom where we used LED boarding for the first time to this press conference today. All with growing support for the Belgian teams and the impressive growth in their membership. We are looking forward to the event!”

The tournament will get underway on Friday, 16 August with a potentially spectacular standalone tie between the hosts and 2016 Olympic silver medalists Belgium against a dangerous Spanish side. Indeed, in the last Europeans, the Spaniards won out 2-0 in 2017 in Amstelveen and so the Belgians know it will be a big battle.

Their Pool A rivals England and Wales will begin their campaigns the following morning. It will be Wales’ first appearance in the top tier since 1999 and is also their first time in the A division since the eight-team format was introduced.

Pool B begins with Germany taking on the other promoted side, Scotland, who won the EuroHockey Championship II in 2017 in Glasgow. For the Scots, it is their first time at this level since Leipzig in 2005.

The reigning champions, the Netherlands, begin their title defence against Ireland. The Dutch are aiming to win their third successive Euro title following wins in London and Amstelveen. Ireland finished sixth last time around, just staying up at Austria’s expense.

In the women’s competition, World Cup bronze medalists Spain come up against promoted Russia in the first women’s game in Pool A at 6pm (CET) on Saturday, 17 August. For Russia, it is a first time in this elite capacity since 2003 when the tournament was in a 12-team format.

A busy five-game day climaxes with a repeat of the 2017 final. World number one side the Netherlands meet the surprise package of the last edition, Belgium, who will be spurred on by a fervent home crowd.

Women’s Pool B gets up and running on Sunday, 18 August when Germany taking on the promoted Belarus. The Germans will have something to prove having not won a medal in 2017, their first-time since reunification.

England and Ireland’s women are the last sides to debut in the competition, the former looking to repeat their 1-0 win from the World Cup group stages. The Irish, though, went on to win silver in London and will hope to carry on that form into 2019.

Those ties will set the tone for the group stages with the rest of the men’s pools running on Sunday, 18 August and Tuesday, 20 August with the top two in each group advancing to the semi-finals while the bottom two go into Pool C where they will aim to avoid the bottom two ranks which will be relegated to the second tier for 2021. The medal playoffs and Pool C games will follow on Thursday, 22 August and Saturday, 24 August.

The second day of women’s pool games will be on Monday, 19 August before the final standings will be confirmed on Wednesday, 21 August either side of the ParaHockey finals. Following the same format as the men, their women’s classification and playoff games take place on Friday, 23 August and Sunday, 25 August.

EuroHockey Championships, (Women & Men), Antwerp (BEL), 16-25 August 2019

MEN’S POOL A (MA): Belgium, England, Spain, Wales

MEN’S POOL B (MB): Netherlands, Germany, Ireland, Scotland

WOMEN’S POOL A: Netherlands, Spain, Belgium, Russia

WOMEN’S POOL B: England, Germany, Ireland, Belarus

Friday 16 August 2018
20.30  MA                 Belgium v Spain

Saturday 17 August 2018
11.15 MA England v Wales
13.30 MB Germany v Scotland
15.45 MB Netherlands v Ireland
18.00 WA Spain v Russia
20.30 WA Netherlands v Belgium

Sunday 18 August 2018
09.00 WB Germany v Belarus
11.15 WB England v Ireland
13.30 MA Spain v Wales
15.45 MA Ireland v Scotland
18.00 MB England v Belgium
20.30 MB Germany v Netherlands

Monday 19 August 2018
13.30 WB Germany v England
15.45 WB Ireland v Belarus
18.00 WA Spain v Netherlands
20.30 WA Belgium v Russia

Tuesday 20 August 2018
13.30 MA Spain v England
15.45 MB Ireland v Germany
18.00 MB Netherlands v Scotland
20.30 MA Belgium v Wales

Wednesday 21 August 2018
10.00 WB England v Belarus
12.15 WB Ireland v Germany
14.15-16.45 ParaHockey Finals
18.00 WA Netherlands v Russia
20.30 WA Belgium v Spain

Thursday 22 August 2018
13.30 MC 4th Pool A v 4th Pool B
15.45 MC 3rd Pool A v 3rd Pool B
18.00 MSF1 1st Pool A v 2nd Pool B
20.30 MSF2 1st Pool B v 2nd Pool A

Friday 23 August 2018
13.30 WC 4th Pool A v 4th Pool B
15.45 WC 3rd Pool A v 3rd Pool B
18.00 WSF1 1st Pool A v 2nd Pool B
20.30 WSF2 1st Pool B v 2nd Pool A

Saturday 24 August 2018
13.30 MC 3rd Pool A v 4th Pool B
15.45 MC 3rd Pool B v 4th Pool A
18.00 M3/4 Loser SF1 v Loser SF2
20.30 M Final Winner SF1 v Winner SF2

Sunday 25 August 2018
09.00 WC 3rd Pool A v 4th Pool B
11.15 WC 3rd Pool B v 4th Pool A
13.30 W3/4 Loser SF1 v Loser SF2
16.00 W Final Winner SF1 v Winner SF2

Notes: Subject to the approval of the EHF, any match(es) may be rescheduled.

The sequence of all matches on 22-23 August and of the pool C matches on 24-25 August will be confirmed on completion of the pool matches.

When the match schedule is prepared, the World Ranking of that moment is used. This process commenced well before the Women’s World Cup in London, hence the pools might look different than they would look now.