Sports Minister MS Gill on Tuesday asked the protesting hockey players to join the World Cup camp in Pune and promised them a “fair deal” after the completion of the mega event starting here next month.

After negotiation collapsed in Pune between the administrators and the players, who are staying away from the camp protesting non-payment of their 2009 dues, Gill said players should return to practice immediately.

“In this situation, I am of the view that an immediate long term solution is not possible. The duty of all players is to continue training and be ready to play the first match of the World Cup on February 28 against Pakistan,” Gill said in a statement.

“The new hockey stadium, which I inspected today, will be the best Hockey Stadium in the world. The players must train, and put in their best, and I expect good results,” said the Sports Minister.

“After the tournament, the Ministry of Sports will be in dialogue with the new elected management of Hockey India to find satisfactory solutions to all issues, raised by the players,” he promised.

“I wish to appeal to the players to immediately join training and continue so with full heart till the tournament and focus to win it.

“I am clear that after the tournament I will do everything possible, to give the players a fair deal,” Gill added.

The players spurned HI’s offer of Rs. 25,000 per player and stormed out of today’s negotiation in Pune and the federation reacted by threatening to field a ‘B’ team if they don’t rejoin the camp in the next 48 hours.

The players insisted on written assurance even though federation president A K Mattoo insists being an ad hoc committee, HI, which goes to poll on February 7, could not commit for future.

Gill too was of the view that a long-term solution is not possible right now.

“Since the elected Indian Hockey Federation was removed last year, the new Hockey India is in the process of being formed. The current Committee is of an ad-hoc nature. The election process for Hockey India, under the guidance of the Ministry’s Observer and the FIH is in process, and will be completed on the February 7 when a regular management, with a regular tenure, will assume responsibility,” he explained.

More In: Hockey | Sport