Hockey

A sense of disappointment all around

Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken on Tuesday expressed his disappointment over the withdrawal of the Champions Trophy from India by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) and said he would try to convince FIH President Leandro Negre not to take away other major international events allotted to India.

Maken, who is scheduled to meet Negre on September 13, said he would make an effort to make the FIH understand the ground realities in India and reverse its decision.

“The letter (from Negre) says the FIH executive board decided to remove the Champions Trophy. I will find out whether there is any chance (to retain the event),” Maken told newspersons here.

The Minister was more concerned about the future of the Olympic qualifiers allotted to India next year. “We are keen that the Olympic qualifiers are played in India. The Champions Trophy is a big event, I wish it were held here,” he added.

Talking about the major objection raised by the FIH regarding the ‘settlement' between Hockey India (HI) and the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), Maken said, “We thought that would bring unity between the two warring factions.”

Challenge

According to the Minister, the present challenge was two-fold — to get the major international tournaments back to India by keeping the FIH in the loop and unite the two hockey bodies in the country. He said “inflated egos” of the officials of the two bodies must take a back seat for the betterment of the sport. “The Government can only be a facilitator.”

Sports Ministry officials will meet representatives of the HI, IHF and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) on September 12 and Maken was optimistic that he would see some positive development before he met Negre the next day.

“If there is any administrative reason, we will look into it. But if there are any commercial or financial reasons, they (FIH) have to,” Maken said.

HI taken aback

HI, on its part, was taken aback by the FIH decision to withdraw the Champions Trophy from India. “It is shocking. The agreement has not even been implemented. We are waiting for the FIH president's meeting with the Sports Minister,” said HI Secretary Narinder Batra.

Meanwhile, the Ministry, in a letter to the FIH, said the ‘settlement' between HI and IHF was only an internal arrangement and temporary in nature. “It will not in any way affect the obligations of Hockey India to the FIH, including fielding National teams, holding FIH recognised events and correspondence with the FIH.”

Maintaining that the Government was fully committed to the principle that there should be only one recognised National Sports Federation for one sport, the letter said, “We are committed… to ushering in a permanent solution which will be within the parameters of the Olympic Charter, FIH Rules and our own guidelines and regulations.”

Pending dues

However, it is learnt that the FIH in its letter has also pointed out that it is yet to get its dues of “$500,000, pursuant to contract for the men's World Cup held in Delhi in March 2010.” The letter says the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) has refused to release the money and has sought a written explanation for the reasons regarding this.

The IOA expressed its surprise over the FIH decision. “The decision is most unfortunate and uncalled for and we hope that FIH will rescind it and hold the tournament in New Delhi as per schedule,” the IOA said in a statement.

IOA acting President Prof. Vijay Kumar Malhotra said if the FIH did not change its stand, the decision would do incalculable harm to the game not only in India but all over the world.” Malhotra said the FIH's decision had puzzled him because “We had assured FIH of all cooperation.”

Prof. Malhotra held Maken responsible for this mess. “I don't know what his real agenda is, but he has landed the country in another unnecessary controversy. Thank God, the so-called sports development bill got scuttled, otherwise India would have faced problems from the IOC and its participation in the London Olympics and all other international competitions including Asian Games & Commonwealth Games.”

Malhotra said he was more than willing to talk to the FIH to make IOA's position clear. “FIH should talk to IOA, which represents the IOC in the country. I hope FIH will keep New Delhi as venue for the Champion's Trophy,” he added.

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Printable version | Apr 5, 2020 11:11:57 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sport/hockey/a-sense-of-disappointment-all-around/article2430319.ece

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