The crisis in Indian hockey deepened with the striking players walking out of an inconclusive meeting with Hockey India officials, prompting the establishment to serve a fresh 48-hour ultimatum to the players to resume training or get axed from the World Cup squad.
While HI said it did not have the required money to pay the players, who are demanding Rs 4.5 lakh each apart from a graded contract system, the campers were in no mood to relent at the meeting, which ended with no immediate signs of an early settlement to the payment dispute.
HI president AK Mattoo said it was a sad development that the players chose money over national colours at a time when the February 28—March 13 mega event is knocking at the door.
“Any player who is in the complex has to train but it seems for them (players) money is more important than playing for the country,” Mattoo told a press conference.
“No one has been thrown out of the camp. The players have been given 48 hours time to resume training. If they decide not to attend the camp within 48 hours then the camp will be shut,” he said.
Mattoo said a new set of players will represent India in the forthcoming World Cup if the revolting players did not report to the camp within the stipulated deadline.
“We are not saying that we are sacking or suspending them but they will not be able to take part in the World Cup,” the HI chief said.
“I am not suspending the camp, I am closing the camp for the time being and restart it after some days.
“India will participate in the World Cup irrespective of the fact that whether they play or not. We will look for fresh players from across the country and train them under Jose Brasa and Harender Singh to make them fit for the World Cup.
The technical people will look into this matter,” he added.
He said that the players refused to budge from their stand despite the assurance that their grievances would be looked into after the HI elections scheduled for February 7.
“I told the players that I have ‘X’ amount of money in my hand. If I give it to you, I have to give it to the women’s as well as junior team. I told them their all demands we will take it forward to new body and see what we can do best for them,” Mattoo said.