HI charges IHF with sabotaging India`s Olympic preparations

New Delhi: Hockey India (HI) Friday lashed out at the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) for going out of its way to sabotage India`s chances of making it to the 2012 Olympics by organising an unauthorised World Series Hockey (WSH) league to clash with the national camp to prepare the team for the London qualifiers.

In a lengthy media release, HI said it has learnt the IHF-promoted WSH league, which does not have the sanction of the International Hockey Federation (FIH), is slated to be conducted in various Indian cities December 2011-January 2012.

IHF has tied up with Nimbus Communications Ltd to organise the multi-million dollar franchise-based WSH league across 10 cities in India in December. The deal is to conduct an annual league for 15 years in 10 cities in India.

The teams will be owned by corporate franchises on the lines of the Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket and players will be distributed among the teams on the basis of a draft pick. The players are guaranteed playing fees, endorsements and performance incentives.

The initial contract will be for three years and the estimated average earnings for performers will be in the range of Rs.40-50 lakh annually.

HI said the IHF is trying to lure the players for the league and it is deliberately clashing with the national camp, thus sabotaging India`s Olympic qualification.

HI has also sent out a veiled threat to the players and officials about the consequences of taking part in an unsanctioned event.

"IHF is hell bent to sabotage India`s qualification chances for the London Olympic Games in 2012. It is desperately trying to throw baits to woo the players and officials for the WSH, fully aware that this is an unsanctioned FIH event which attracts penalties and suspensions for violations," HI said in the statement.

"This is nothing but a blatant anti-national campaign by IHF to ensure the slow poisoning of Indian Hockey. This event is unsanctioned by FIH and has serious implications for both players and officials who participate in it."

HI will also be conducting a similar IPL-like International Men`s Hockey League, which has the FIH sanction, from 2013. HI said they have asked for a 45-day window from the FIH.

"FIH has been requested for a 45-day window in its calendar for the event and also not to conduct any other tournament during this period," HI said.

"Teams featuring the top current overseas world stars besides India will be drawn from various regions of the country.”

"The teams will be owned by franchisees and matches will be played on a home and away basis as in the IPL cricket format. This league shall be held annually and will be part of the FIH annual schedule."

HI, in a dig at IHF, pointed out how abysmally the India team performed during its regime and how well it has done under its (HI`s) banner.

"Under the Indian Hockey Federation, India failed to qualify for the Olympic Games at Beijing in 2008. This was the first time in 80 years that India went unrepresented in the hockey competition at the Olympic Games. This was nothing short of a national catastrophe as Indian hockey plunged to a new low.”

"During the IHF period, India, apart from not qualifying for the Beijing Olympics, performed abysmally in the World Cup, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games 2006, finishing 11th, 6th and 5th, respectively.”

"However, the team performed much better under Hockey India in the next edition of all these games in 2010. There was a marked improvement in the results as India finished 8th, silver medallist and bronze medallist, respectively, at the World Cup, Commonwealth Games and Asian Games," HI said.

The FIH has cracked its whip on the shabby management of Indian hockey. In its Sep 27 letter to the sports ministry, FIH made it clear that it does not approve of the settlement brokered by the ministry to make HI and the IHF run the sport jointly.

The FIH said it only recognises HI as the sole governing body of the sport in India.

The FIH has already taken the Champions Trophy away from India and it will now be held in Auckland, New Zealand. India`s participation in the 2012 London Olympics and other international events may also be jeopardised if a solution is not reached over the WSH.


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