Bhubaneswar: The International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Sunday suspended two Pakistani players Amjad Ali and Mohammad Tousiq from playing in the Champions Trophy final after they were found guilty of making obscene gestures towards spectators following their semi-final win against India.
Hockey India's imminent threat of boycotting all FIH events scheduled to be held in India during the next few calender years made the world hockey's governing body reverse their earlier decision of just letting the players with official reprimand.
According to the release issued by FIH, a third Pakistani player Shafaqt Rasool, got away with official reprimand.
All the three players have accepted their guilt.
Amjad and Tousiq were guilty of making obscene gestures with their middle fingers towards a packed gallery, an action that has been photographed and is now documented.
"After the conclusion of the semi-final match between India and Pakistan, Amjad Ali was seen making obscene body gestures that are considered to be obscene, the evidence of which surfaced after the initial statement was issued on 14 December at midnight," the FIH said in a statement.
"Amjad Ali accepts the breach of the code of conduct. The attitude of the team member at the hearing was good, with Pakistan tendering a written apology to the community of hockey. The seriousness of the offence falls within Level 1 of FIH rules and regulations and according to the Code of Conduct of Level 1 offence one match suspension is imposed on Ali Amjad.
"He is suspended for the next match that Pakistan will play in the relevant tournament," the statement further read.
The FIH further said that Tousiq committed the same offence and has been handed out the same punishment as Ali.
"Tousiq was seen making gestures that are considered to be obscene (raising the middle finger to spectators on the stands) whose evidence surfaced after the initial statement was issued on 14 December at midnight," it stated.
Even Tousiq accepted that he breached the code of conduct.
"Muhammad Tousiq accepts the breach of the code of conduct. According to the Code of Conduct Level-1, Muhammad Tousiq is suspended for the next match that Pakistan will play in the relevant tournament," the FIH said.
Incidentally, Rasool got away with just a reprimand for committing the same offence as Tousiq, but what against the latter were the two yellow cards which he received so far in the tournament.
"After the conclusion of the semi-final match between India and Pakistan, Rasool was seen making gestures that are considered to be obscene (raising the middle finger to spectators on the stands). Shafqat Rasool accepts the breach of the code of conduct. So, according to the Code of Conduct Level, and within the level High Decision has been given an official reprimand," the world body said.
The punishments came after Hockey India today took a strong objection to FIH's "feeble" action towards Pakistani players indecent behaviour and decided not to host any FIH events in India until and unless the world body hands out a strong punishment to the offenders of this shameless incident.
Soon after their 4-3 win over India, Pakistani players went into a frenzy mode and started celebrating their victory in a wild fashion. They started dancing in jubilation.
They removed their shirts, used foul language and made obscene gestures towards the crowd and media, prompting their coach Shahnaz Sheikh to come into action and take away his players.
Tournament Director Wiert Doyer, who was asked to carry out an inquiry into the matter, then spoke to Pakistani camp and said later the FIH is satisfied with their apology and so "no action was unwarranted".
Meanwhile, Pakistan coach Shahnaz Sheikh today condemned the "shameless" behavior of his players and said his wards' conduct were "unacceptable" to the entire hockey community.
"The incident that occurred after the match between India and Pakistan contained behavior that is considered unacceptable to Pakistan Hockey Federation and the entire hockey community. As a result, I have spoken to my team and explained to them that they are guests in India and as hosts they (India) have been very hospitable to the team.
"Our opinion is that the behavior of a few of our players should not have occurred," Sheikh said in a statement, which was handed out to the media by FIH Compitions Committee member Kenneth Reid.
"In addition, I have written to the Tournament Director Mr Wiert Doyer and sincerely apologized for the behavior of a few players in my team," he said.
Sheikh also said that PHF too condemns such a behavior of the players.
"I have also spoken with the President and Secretary General of Pakistan Hockey Federation who both agree that the behavior was not acceptable and they would also submit their regrets to Hockey India and the Indian public," he said.
"I hope that in the true spirit of the game everyone will accept our sincere apologies that is given without any reservations," the coach concluded.