New Delhi: Hockey India on Saturday cracked the whip by slapping a two-year ban on star players Sandeep Singh and Sardara Singh for repeatedly indulging in indisciplinary activities.
The national federation imposed the sanction on Sandeep and Sardara after a marathon meeting here today which was attended by the HI top brass, including its secretary general Narinder Batra.
The two players, who left the national camp in Bangalore reportedly after an argument with the coach, were also summoned to the meeting.
Batra, however, said that both the players have right to appeal against the ban and have been given 30 days time to lodge their protest.
"Today we had a meeting to discuss the issue of Sandeep and Sardara, who left the camp in Bangalore on August 23 without the permission of the coach. The issues was discussed in detail and the players were also given an opportunity to explain their position," Batra told reporters here.
"It's the third time in 6 months they have repeated such an incidence. Enough is enough and we felt some action needs to be taken against them. So they have been banned for 2 years during which they can't participate in HI and International Hockey Federation (FIH) events. It was an unanimous opinion," he said.
"But they can appeal against the ban within 30 days to me and then a five-member committee will be formed which will hear their case," he said
Batra said that they five-man panel would have one member from Sports Authority of India, one from Indian Olympic Association, one athletes representative and two from HI.
In the recent past, both Sandeep and Sardara have repeatedly violated discplinary code. In May, they were not considered for the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament after they did not report for the national camp and went to play in the Belgium league.
The duo, however, made the probables' list for next month's Asian Champions Trophy in Ordos, China after promising not to repeat such an offence.
But in between the Bangalore camp earlier this month,they along with three other players -- Arjun Halappa, Prabhjot Singh and Adrian D'Souza -- went to Mumbai without permission to attend a World Series Hockey event for which the were issued show cause notice by HI.
Both Sandeep and Sardara were later included in the team for the Asian Champions Trophy after they apologised for their act again.
Terming the ban as unfortunate, Batra said HI had to resort to such an action against the country's best drag-flicker and mid-fielder to stem the rising cases indicipline within the team.
"It was unfortunate. Sardara is one of the best player and Sandeep is the best drag-flicker but there was a feeling that their indicipline was hampering the team," he said.
Batra said during the meeting both the players have failed to produce satisfactory reason for deserting the team just days ahead of the China event.
"Today also they gave in writing a representation that they left the camp with the coach's permission. But it was a predecided thing because their tickets were booked in the afternoon and they came for permission only in the evening", he said.
"It is not something that happened all of a sudden. Sandeep said that his son was ill, and that his wife and parents were also not well within a span of 30 days. If they had family issues they should have said this before the selection trials," the HI secretary insisted.
"They are good players but they shouldn't think they are indispensable. Hope better sense prevail and they come out with the true reason (for leaving the camp," Batra added.
When contacted, Sandeep seemed in a state of shock and was also at loss of words.
"I just now came to know about the ban. I really don't know what to do," he said.
Asked whether he would appeal against the sanction, he said, "I am not in a position to say anything now."
Apart from Batra, the meeting was also attended by HI disciplinary committee chairman Pargat Singh; selectors Balbir Singh, BP Govinda and AB Subbiah; players representative Mukesh Kumar and Rajneesh Mishra, government observer Harbinder Singh; Michael Nobbs (head coach); SS Grewal (satand-in coach); Mohd Riaz, Clawrence Lobo and Jugraj Singh (coach); David John (exercise physiologist) and Srikant Iyengar (physio).