HI elections adjourned

On a day of dramatic developments, Hockey India (HI) on Wednesday adjourned its annual general meeting, convened for holding its elections, sine die.

Before HI could start its proceedings for the elections, the Delhi High Court asked the Union Government to explain why it was not making it clear that HI was a private body and the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) was the sole governing body of the sport in the country, a pre-condition laid down by the court the previous day for holding the elections.

While the HI electorate waited for long hours to go ahead with its polls, the government stuck to its stand that it recognised both IHF and HI and, on court orders, withdrew its observer from HI elections. This prompted the court to stay the HI elections till August 10.

The court had summoned the Union Sports Ministry Joint Secretary, Injeti Srinivas, after the IHF moved a contempt petition on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, the Bombay High Court also stayed the elections following an appeal moved by Hockey Maharashtra.

Thus, HI was left with no other choice but to adjourn its meeting sine die. HI Secretary Narinder Batra said their hands were tied because of the stay orders by the courts. “We tried to hold elections in November last year, then in January and now. But every time there was some problem or the other,” he said.

Observer flabbergasted

However, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) observer for the HI elections, Antonio von Ondarza, was “flabbergasted” with the never-ending legal proceedings which had been posing hurdles for the HI elections.

Ondarza stopped short of saying that if HI elections were not held by the latest deadline of July 31, then India might lose the right to participate in international tournaments. If that happens, then India might not take part in the women's World Cup, scheduled in Rosario (Argentina) next month.

However, Ondarza said the final decision in this regard would be taken after he consulted with his other colleagues in the FIH.

“The FIH is deeply hurt by this. We put all our efforts and we were always promised that this would be done… I do not believe in dates anymore,” a disgusted Ondarza said.

Arguing that the FIH had derecognised IHF in 2000, Ondarza said, “If the court says IHF is the sole governing body in India, then how can I not be surprised!”

He clarified that since 2000, the Indian Hockey Confederation (IHC) had been representing India. However, as the FIH saw that it was running only on paper, it gave recognition to HI — a unified body of men and women.

Ondarza stressed that, as required by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) and FIH regulations, the national federation must be a democratically elected unified body for both men and women.

“In the last two years, we have gone from deadline to deadline. But we have our statutes to go by and India does not comply with those. HI has done everything except the elections,” he said.

He pleaded with all parties concerned to thrash out a solution for the betterment of the sport and the athletes. “The ball is in India's court, whosoever is involved — the government, the court, the officials — should get the job done,” Ondarza said.

“We want hockey to be played on the field, not in courts,” he added.

Meanwhile, a delighted IHF President K.P.S. Gill welcomed the latest developments and said all parties concerned should sit together and sort out the issue.

He welcomed the government's stand on IHF and HI. “I am happy with the government's statement yesterday, it is a positive thing. Had the government taken the step two months back the problems would have been sorted out by now,” Gill said.

Gill is scheduled to meet Ondarza and the meeting assumes significance as it could be the first step forward towards ending the long-standing dispute between IHF and HI.

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Printable version | Apr 8, 2020 12:07:53 PM |

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