An administrative blunder by the Squash Rackets Federation of India has denied the men’s team a chance to compete in the World Championships in Washington from December 15-21.
It is learnt that SRFI officials were not able to get the necessary clearances in time from the Sports Authority of India for the biennial event.
“The SRFI was not able to arrange a meeting with SAI and that is why the approval did not come through. The SRFI didn’t register the team either. It is really sad that players have to bear the brunt of this,” an official was quoted as saying by PTI.
The players, both men and women, are already struggling for guidance with the SRFI not being able to appoint a foreign coach after Egyptian Achraf Karargui left on a bitter note ahead of the 2018 Commonwealth Games, calling the Indian federation “unprofessional”.
India were not exactly title contenders but have a competitive men’s team comprising of world No 10 Saurav Ghosal, 48th-ranked Ramit Tandon and 55th-ranked Mahesh Mangaonkar.
Defending champions Egypt are favourites to lift the trophy as the United States gears up to host the event for the first time in its 52-year history. India too has hosted the the World Championships once, back in 2007 in Chennai.
Hosts USA will be joined by 22 teams representing Argentina, Australia, Canada, Colombia, Egypt, England, France, Germany, Hong Kong China, Ireland, Jamaica, Kuwait, Malaysia, New Zealand, Nigeria, Republic of Korea, Scotland, Singapore, South Africa, Spain, Switzerland and Wales. The last edition was held in Marseille, France in 2017.
Since the tournament’s inception in 1967 in Australia, the men’s world team championship has been staged in 12 countries.
UPDATE: The SRFI issued a statement that the goof-up happened because the federation “could not get the required approval from the Sports Authority of India despite its best effort.”
According to a release, “the last date for submitting India’s entry was July 16 and the SRFI had written to the SAI little over a month earlier, on June 14 for approval. The Federation had in fact submitted its Annual Calendar for Competitions and Training to the SAI as early as January 2019 wherein participation in the World championship was a point mentioned.
“However no ACTC meeting was called for in the subsequent months from February to April when such delay do not normally take place. The meeting actually took place only on July 30 by which time the Championship last date had elapsed.
“SRFI in a bid to save the situation had even used its good offices to seek permission from the World Squash Federation to extend the last date citing the genuine reasons for the same and its anxiety that the players should not miss the opportunity,” the statement added.