The organisers of the proposed World Series hockey have started approaching prominent Pakistani players with former captain Muhammad Saqlain today confirming that he had been offered to sign a contract.
“Yes some people have contacted me and some other leading players for the World Series which I think is a great idea and finally a chance for players to obtain some financial security for themselves and their families,” Saqlain told PTI.
Nimbus Sports and the Indian Hockey Federation have signed a 15-year deal to hold the WSH annually in India covering 10 cities.
The participating teams would be owned by corporate franchises and players will be selected on draft pick.
The organizers have claimed that players’ initial contract will be for three years and estimated average earnings for performers will range from Rs. 40-50 lakhs annually starting from this year.
The International Hockey Federation has announced it does not recognise the WSH and players taking part in it will be banned from international competitions.
The Pakistan Hockey Federation taking a lead have made a similar announcement that players who sign up for the WSH will not be allowed to play in Pakistan again.
The FIH only recognises Hockey India as the ruling body of the sport in India and does not recognise the IHF.
Saqlain said that he was surprised at the attitude of the FIH and PHF.
“What is wrong with having a high quality professional league which will not only benefit players financially but also raise the bar of the sport globally,” he questioned.
Despite warnings from the PHF, Saqlain said it would not deter Pakistani players from signing up for the tournament.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if members of the Pakistan team including Sohail Abbas, Rehan Butt, Zeeshan Ashraf, Waseem Ahmed, Salman Akbar sign up for the WSH in near future. The financial benefits for them are immense,” he said.
Interestingly the above players who were members of the Pakistan team that won the Asian Gold Medal in China after 20 years are yet to receive the cash awards, job promotions or plots that were announced for them by the government, PHF and other companies to celebrate their historic victory.
PHF secretary, Asif Bajwa was clear that any event that is not recognised by the FIH cannot be recognised by the PHF.
“The bottom line is that until the FIH recognises the WSH it remains an unofficial event for us and we can’t give permission to any of our players to take part in it,” Bajwa said.