New Delhi: Ending the stalemate over a payment dispute, India’s revolting tennis players today said they will represent the country in the upcoming Davis Cup tie and Commonwealth Games after being given an assurance by the Sports Ministry.
The star quartet of Leander Paes, Mahesh Bhupathi, Somdev Devvarman and Rohan Bopanna had written a joint letter to AITA threatening to pull out of Games if their dues for the CWG preparations will not be paid.
The four players today issued a joint statement, confirming their participation but also hit out at All India Tennis Association for leaking their ‘private’ mail and not submitting bills to the government for clearance in time.
They asserted that they have submitted all their bills to AITA and the onus is now on the national Federation to get expedite the reimbursement process.
“It is true that we wrote a letter to the AITA to voice some concerns we had about expenses that we were promised over the last year and a half.
“We have all submitted bills to various people at the AITA over this period and now that the AITA has nominated us to represent India we requested them to make sure that the promises made are kept.
“We would like to put all speculation to rest and confirm we will be present in full strength to represent India against Brazil in Chennai in September,” the players said in the statement.
The players said they have been assured by the Sports Ministry Joint Secretary (International sports division) that all the dues will be settled soon.
“As for the CWG, Mr. Rahul Bhatnagar has confirmed to us personally there will be no issues on payments once the AITA releases all the bills we have submitted over time and more.
“The issue was meant to be a private matter between the players and the Federation and it deeply disturbs us that all our communication to the AITA was sent out to the media from the AITA office.
“We had no intention to create a media frenzy, just wanted to make sure we get what is due to us. We are hopeful that our genuine concerns will be addressed by our federation transparently without any delay.
“We will continue to be committed to play for our country,” they said.
Meanwhile, the AITA Secretary General Anil Khanna welcomed the players’ statement and said he will speak to Sport Ministry officials on Monday to sort out the payments.
“I am very pleased to hear about the statement of the players that they are going to play in the Commonwealth Games. I was always 100 % sure that our players, who have stood selflessly by the nation for the last two decades, will continue to serve the nation.
“As regards their grievances, they are being addressed. Mr Jaideep Mukherjea, Chairman CWG Preparation Programme, and I will meet Joint Secretary Mr Rahul Bhatnagar on Monday to sort out the pending issues of the players with the Ministry of Sports,” Khanna said in a statement.
Bhatnagar said he has spoken to Bhupathi and blamed AITA for the fracas.
“I don’t think there is a standoff. I spoke to Mahesh Bhupathi and he assured me that are no intentions of not playing in the Commonwealth Games,” he said.
On being asked why the players’ payment were delayed for so long, Bhatnagar blamed the AITA.
“The reason for that is AITA are suppose to submit these bills to us with a certification that players have actually spent the money. For some reasons we have not been getting the bills from AITA in respect to these players,” he said.