Hockey India has written to world governing body FIH alleging that the police questioning of midfielder Sardar Singh during the recently concluded Hockey World League semi-final in London was an attempt at ‘match-fixing.’
A day ahead of the group game against Pakistan, former captain Sardar Singh had been issued summons by a police station in Leeds after a complaint filed by British-Indian hockey player Ashpal Bhogal in India last year, where she claimed to be Sardar’s fiancée and accused him of refusing to marry her and torturing mentally and physically.
Hockey India, in a letter to FIH CEO Jason McCracken, have said that the complaint and questioning was an attempt to affect the player’s performance – given that he was forced to travel a long distance, thereby skipping practice – but also influence the result of its match against Pakistan, by going after India’s talismanic midfielder.
“Everyone is aware that cases of match-fixing in cricket have taken place in England concerning Pakistan matches...now if this plague has decided to spread its way into hockey by adopting a route of bogus criminal complaint and making teams play with less number of players or tired players...then it is a serious issue,” the letter, a copy of which is with The Field, states.
The complaint letter from HI President Mariamma Koshy included an incident report by Indian manager on the tour, Jugraj Singh and Sardar Singh himself. Jugraj made it clear that the incident affected Sardar badly and India’s performance dipped considerably after that.
“The effect of [the incident] can be very well seen on Sardar Singh by sitting in cramped position for 11 hours both ways in a car and 4 hours of sitting on chair for questioning. We had to make Sardar not play in match against Holland for almost 70 per cent of the time due to stiffness of body. It may be noted here that Sardar Singh is the main playmaker of the Indian team,” Jugraj said.
“The incident affected the morale of the Indian team and the team lost focus & purpose and the performance of the team can be seen in matches which happened after the incident of Sardar Singh. The team lost against Holland the next day and also lost against Malaysia & Canada (both lower ranked than India) and before the incident, Indian team had won all 3 pool matches,” he added.
Sardar’s letter, on the other hand, listed all the previous complaints filed by the same woman for sexual and physical assault against him (10 instances) between 2013-2016, across Europe and India, including Rotterdam, London, Kuala Lumpur and Glasgow. He added that all but one of which have been closed, due to lack of evidence.
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