The Union Government has accorded recognition to Hockey India, giving it another boost, following the recognition it received from the International Hockey Federation (FIH), as the newly-formed body prepares to hold elections amidst apprehensions expressed by several State associations.

End of speculations

The letter, dated August 11, granting official recognition to Hockey India was sent to the President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) by the Union Sports Ministry, ending speculation whether the Government would grant recognition before elections.

The ministry’s action followed a ‘wait and watch’ policy and, among other things, a clarification received from the FIH that Hockey India was indeed the recognised body to run the game.

Hockey India, with A.K. Mattoo as its Chairman, was formed and announced by the IOA last June, following a threat held out by the FIH that the World Cup, scheduled to be held here next March, would be taken away and India might not be allowed to compete in international competitions. The FIH demanded a unified body.

The IOA disaffiliated the men’s and women’s bodies that had looked after hockey till then, the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and the Indian Women’s Hockey Federation (IWHF), while forming Hockey India. Seven members chosen by the IOA from different sports, constituted the registered body that was expected to be only an interim arrangement with elections planned within six months.

The FIH recognition was quick, forcing State associations affiliated to the suspended federations to raise questions. The FIH President, Leandro Negre, visited Delhi last month to hold consultations with all parties concerned.

In the meetings that the ministry officials had with Mr. Negre and in his response to the letter written to him by the ministry, the FIH President gave his approval to Hockey India.

The ministry letter to IOA, while detailing the circumstances that led it to take the decision, states: “It has been decided to accord recognition to Hockey India... as the National federation for promotion of hockey in India both for men and women.”

Rider

The letter further stated that the recognition would be subject to Hockey India adhering to Government guidelines.

Among the circumstances and relevant facts that came under the consideration of the government and listed in the letter were, the disaffiliation of the hockey bodies by the IOA, the special powers of the IOA to constitute a unified body to comply with the requirement of the FIH, the affiliation of Hockey India with the IOA, the timelines prescribed by the FIH, the hosting of the World Cup, the importance of the country’s participation in the Commonwealth Games and Asian Games next year and India’s participation in all major international events.

“The recognition will further be subject to the following conditions: i) early finalisation of an election schedule, ii) putting in place comprehensive election guidelines, iii) appointment of an election observer by the Government, iv) ensuring free, fair and transparent election process, v) setting up a mechanism to hear and resolve grievances of State units of erstwhile national hockey bodies,” the letter states.

Term of office-bearers

The government has also stipulated that the term of office-bearers would not exceed four years and that the principal office-bearers would not be eligible to continue for more than two consecutive terms or continuously for more than eight years.

“The extension of recognition beyond 31-12-2010 shall be subject to fulfilment of the above conditions to the full satisfaction of the competent authority,” the ministry letter concludes.

In response to a letter from the ministry, Mr. Negre, wrote on July 3 to state that Hockey India had been recognised by the FIH. “I trust your government will now likewise, grant full recognition to Hockey India as the sole governing body for hockey, men and women, in India,” Mr. Negre wrote.

The government letter to Negre, following Hockey India’s application for recognition, mentioned the developments related to hockey administration in the country including the suspension of the IHF by the IOA in April 2008 and the disaffiliation of men and women’s bodies last June and the formation of a unified Hockey India.

It also noted that the government had stopped dealing with the IWHF from March 2009 “because the tenure of the elected management had expired.”

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