Mumbai: In a strongly worded communique, International Basketball Federation (FIBA) has pleaded with the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports to recognise the faction headed by Govindaraj at the earliest and end the infighting in the Basketball Federation of India (BFI).
Informing Minister of State Sarbananda Sonowal that it has recognised the Govindaraj faction -- after it had conducted elections in Bengaluru on March 27 -- to head the BFI, FIBA Secretary General, Patrick Baumann, also alleged that threats were being issued to players and state units by persons connected with the rival faction not to take part in competitions organised by the BFI and/or FIBA.
Explaining that on May 23 FIBA had officially recognised the BFI faction headed by Govindaraj, as opposed to the rival faction headed by Poonam Mahajan, Baumann said that "more than four months later we regret to note that the institutional situation of the BFI remains extremely fragile and subject to unacceptable pressures that hinder the proper development of basketball in your country.
"To our utmost concern, we have received evidence and copies of correspondence issued by persons who were directly or indirectly part of the parallel General Meeting held in Pune the day after the holding of the valid BFI General Meeting, threatening and dissuading players and State Unit associations to take part in competitions organised by the BFI and/or FIBA.
"While it is not unusual for officials involved within the sports political spheres to have disagreements, FIBA cannot accept that players who have absolutely nothing to do with these political matters and personal arguments be held hostages and prevented from representing their country in major international competitions.
"Not only are these threats disrespectful towards the hard work these players and coaches went through in order to be at the required level, but it is also a direct insult to the State of India whose national team has been missing out on key players due to this institutional turmoil," Baumann said.
To buttress his point, the FIBA official has accused that after the Indian men's team had entered the quarter finals of the continental championship in China after a dozen years, "key players were not allowed to take part in this championship due to various threats allegedly motivated by the absence of BFI recognition by your Ministry."
"FIBA is therefore of the firm opinion that the matter cannot continue any longer and we would respectfully request your Ministry to act without delay in the interest of the athletes, coaches, clubs, parents, sponsors and fans, who invest considerable time and resources in our sport, by granting, without delay, the necessary recognition to the BFI presided by Mr Govindaraj and recognised by FIBA," Baumann said in his letter to Sonowal.
A copy of the letter, made available to PTI, has been sent to the Indian Olympic Association and FIBA Asian President, Sheikh Saud Bin Ali al-Thani, among others.