Nandakumar Marar

IOA President assures payment of Rs. 1 crore

A decision on graded payments to be taken before World Cup

Committee on financial affairs to be formed

PUNE: The Indian men’s probables for the 2010 Hero Honda World Cup Hockey will resume training at the Balewadi Sports Complex turf on Thursday morning, six days after a joint decision by 22 players to stop practice in protest against non-payment of cash incentives for the team’s performances in 2009.

Hockey India had issued a 48-hour deadline on Wednesday for the agitating players to resume training, refusing to give written assurances on cash incentives for last year.

The World Cup probables relented on verbal assurances from Indian Olympic Association President Suresh Kalmadi to make a payment of Rs. one crore within a week.

Verbal assurances

The IOA chief also assured the agitating players that the issue of graded payments raised in written communication with the HI would be put up before the newly-elected committee post the February 7 elections. Speaking at a media briefing along with the team and coaching staff, Kalmadi also assured a decision on graded payments would be taken before the 2010 World Cup.

Deepak Thakur, speaking on behalf of the players, said: “We wanted a written assurance from HI on cash incentives because they were not committing, even orally, at the media briefing.

“Mr. Kalmadi’s assurances are also oral, but at least he is ready to commit in pubic before the media about clearing dues up to Rs. one crore within a week,” the Indian forward said.

Sponsor’s initiative

Sahara India’s offer to give HI Rs. one crore had set the ball rolling towards positive developments later in the day.

Dhanraj Pillay held discussions with players at the team hostel, followed by Kalmadi’s entry. “I guarantee a payment of Rs. one crore within a week. Broader issues like the grading system take time; the matter will be put up before the newly-elected HI office-bearers,” he said.

He also assured the players that none of them would be targeted in the wake of the six-day protest. “No player will be targeted for speaking his mind. I agree with the players’ stand and also want them and the coaches to work together and ensure a podium finish at the World Cup. India should try for a gold.”

Chief coach Jose Brasa said: “The whole thing proves that my boys can fight like tigers. They are not lambs.”

Asked to comment on players’ commitment to the nation questioned by HI President A.K. Mattoo the day before, Kalmadi said: “We have no doubts about the integrity of these players. At the same time, there is no doubt about Mattoo’s integrity either.”

Nice gestures

The IOA chief appreciated the response from corporates and celebrities.

“The response from all sections — from companies to individuals and State governments — shows that money will come into Indian hockey,” he said.

Kalmadi also announced the setting up of a committee — comprising past players, hockey administrators and IOA officials — to look into the financial affairs.

Olympians Ajitpal Singh, M.P. Ganesh, Zafar Iqbal and Pillay were named as the former players on the committee. “The money will be distributed among the players,” Kalmadi said.

The specifics have to be worked out.

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