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IOA and Hockey India should select best team: court

Asking stakeholders not to indulge in internal squabbles and to concentrate on selecting the best team, the Supreme Court on Friday permitted Hockey India and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to field the men and women's teams for the Commonwealth Games.

Passing interim orders on a petition filed by Hockey India, a Bench of Justices R.V. Raveendran and H.L. Gokhale said: “The IOA and Hockey India will have to make all efforts to select the best team by including in the National Selection Committee the respective coaches. If the Indian Olympic Association wants to make any additions to the National Selection Committee, it may do so.”

The court said: “The issue is who will field the Men's Hockey Team and the Women's Hockey Team in the Commonwealth Games to be held in October. Hockey India claims to be the national federation relating to hockey, which is affiliated to the International Hockey Federation (FIH). The Indian Hockey Federation, which has been impleaded as a party, admits that as on date it is not affiliated to the International Federation and, therefore, cannot field the team.”

Earlier, Solicitor-General Gopal Subramaniam, appearing for the Sports Authority of India (SAI), said the IOA should field the team. The National Selection Committee, constituted by the SAI, was training prospective players in Pune.

The selection committee had reputed members Zafar Iqbal, Ajit Pal Singh, Govinda and Balbeer Singh and they would assist the IOA in the selection.

Senior counsel Indu Malhotra, appearing for the IOA, said it was merely the apex body of the National Sports Federation and, ‘by itself, does not have the expertise to either select the Hockey teams or field the teams, or deal with the various related issues which will arise when the event is held.” Though the “IOA is willing to field the teams, it will have to associate the National Federation which is affiliated to the International Federation, which, at present, is Hockey India.”

Senior counsel Ashok Desai, appearing for Hockey India, said it was the only organisation recognised by the international federation and competent to field the teams.

Collaborative job

The Bench, in its order said: “Hockey India, the IOA and the SAI all agree that the Selection Committee will consist, among others, of Mr. Zafar Iqbal, Mr. Ajit Pal Singh, Mr. Govinda and Mr. Balbeer Singh. They also agree that the selection of teams will be made from the players who are already under training. It is not as if the SAI has a set of players, Hockey India has another set of players and the IOA has yet another set of players. As the players are same and the selectors are also the same and as the SAI considers the IOA the body which should field the entry, we find no reason why IOA should not do the fielding of the teams in collaboration with Hockey India, as had been done in regard to the selection for participation in the Women's Hockey World Cup.”

The Bench directed that the matter be listed for further hearing immediately after the Commonwealth Games in the third week of October.

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Printable version | Apr 3, 2020 10:28:45 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/IOA-and-Hockey-India-should-select-best-team-court/article16147183.ece

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