Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: A little more than 13 months after it suspended the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), headed by K.P.S. Gill, the Indian Olympic Association on Wednesday announced the formation of a unified body to run men and women’s hockey in the country.

Headed by A.K. Mattoo, Treasurer, IOA, the new body, named Hockey India, was registered on May 20, within the 15-day deadline given by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for the formation of a unified Indian federation. The FIH wrote on May 5 to the IOA threatening India’s debarment from international hockey.

“We reiterate that in case no positive concrete action is taken, the participation of the Indian teams in all international hockey events, under the aegis of FIH, will not be permitted,” a letter from the FIH President stated.

Addressing a press conference on Wednesday, IOA President Suresh Kalmadi said that with little time left to meet the demands of the FIH, the IOA had to come up with a solution when dialogues failed to bring together the IHF and the Indian Women’s Hockey Federation (IWHF).

Both these bodies have now been disaffiliated by the IOA as per the recommendation of a nine-member committee that was entrusted the responsibility of finding a solution to the long-standing issue at the IOA General Assembly meeting in Pune in October last year.

As per that panel’s recommendation, Hockey India had also been granted provisional recognition by the IOA. Kalmadi claimed that FIH had also given provisional recognition to the new body and a letter to this effect was expected.

The new body, which is dominated by the IOA ad hoc committee on men’s hockey, will have Mrs. Vidya Stokes, president of the disaffiliated IWHF, as its senior vice-president, and Mohammed Aslam Khan as its Secretary-General. Narender Batra, former IHF Treasurer who went to court against Gill, has been made treasurer.

Kalmadi said the ad hoc body had been dissolved. There was no clarity about the selection committee. Aslam Khan said the new selection panels would be formed soon.

Reversal of roles

In a strange reversal of roles, Hockey India will now get down to the task of helping form State associations (one unit per State) in consultations with the State Olympic associations and units of the disaffiliated IHF and IWHF.

Elections to the new body would be held within six months, IOA assured, while claims were already being made about more than six State units having already joined the race. Ten State units would be required to hold elections, according to the constitution of the new body.

Mattoo said that elections would be held earlier than the stipulated time.

The Union Government and FIH had been informed about the formation of the unified body, Kalmadi said.

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