New Delhi: Days after filing a bizarre ‘fixing’ complaint against Pakistan with the International Hockey Federation (FIH), Hockey India (HI) has set further uneasy flutters within the corridors of the world body by deciding to pull out of its new brainchild – the Hockey Pro League.
It’s been reported that the HI informed the FIH about its decision on July 7, just a day after president Mariamma Koshy wrote a letter to the FIH CEO Jason McCracken that Pakistan tried unfair means to influence the result of their pool match against India at the Hockey World League (HWL) Semifinals in London last month.
While the reasons for India’s pull out are not clear yet, the FIH was unusually quick – it took them less than 24 hours – to accept the decision.
“The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has received confirmation from Hockey India that they have withdrawn from the Hockey Pro League. Whilst we regret Hockey India’s decision not to be involved in this exciting new global League, we have replacement teams available following an application process which was oversubscribed,” the FIH said in a statement issued on Saturday.
No India, no money?
Any professional league at the world stage without money-spinners India participating seems non-viable, but the FIH said in the statement that it will “convene a meeting to discuss the practical implications of a team withdrawal including formally inviting replacement teams to participate in the men’s and women’s League.”
The sequence of events and HI’s decision to exit seem to have a strange relation, clearly indicating that India isn’t happy ever since it’s former president and present FIH chief, Narinder Batra, was almost forced to apologise for a Facebook post he wrote during the HWL semifinals in London. However, it’s a complex situation with Batra himself at the helm of FIH now after being elected as its president last year.
Batra, in the since deleted FB post, had alleged involvement of some Pakistan-origin politicians in the England government to have pre-arranged the police complaint against India veteran Sardar Singh by his alleged girlfriend and British resident Ashpal Bhogal. HI complained that it was an attempt to destabilize the Indian team ahead of the match. Sardar was also called for questioning at a police station in Leeds after the match in which India thrashed Pakistan 7-1.
While the reasons behind HI’s decision to not be part of the Pro League aren’t clear yet, the recent developments are jeopardizing the Indian federation’s congenial relations with the FIH while doing more harm than good to world hockey.