New Delhi: The entire hockey fraternity of India smelt a rat behind inform Shivendra Singh`s three-match suspension, alleging that it was done intentionally to weaken the hosts ahead of their second match against Australia here today.
Indian captain Rajpal Singh, however, said that the entire team is with Shivendra Singh. He believes that Shivendra was wrongly given the punishment.
“It’s like that he was given punishments for murder while he has just committed a theft. It’s really harsh.”
Rajpal however hoped that the suspension would be revoked.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) tournament director Ken Read, who himself is an Australian, slapped Shivendra with a three-match suspension for deliberately hitting a Pakistani player last night even though the Zeeshan Ashraf-led side did not bring the incident to the notice of the world body.
India coach Jose Brasa also lashed out at tournament director Ken Read for slapping Shivendra Singh with a three-match suspension for an "unintentional" foul against a Pakistani player during their hockey World Cup opener here.
Brasa wondered why tournament director Ken Read had picked an Indian player while players of other teams were "let off with far more graver offences".
Read had suspended Shivendra for "deliberately" hitting Fareed Ahmed by lifting his stick during the high-voltage India-Pakistan encounter yesterday but Brasa said other matches of the tournament so far were much more physical and graver offences were committed.
"The three-match suspension penalty was very harsh and in that sense wrong. I don`t say he (tournament director) does not have the power under FIH rules. He has the authority but the decision was wrong. It was an enormous penalty for an unintentional foul," Brasa told reporters.
"If Mr Read wants to send a message why did he pick the Indian team. My players were struck on the face in that match against Pakistan and matches involving Australia, England and other countries were much more physical involving graver offences by their players.”
"I have never ever experienced a player being handed a three-match penalty in my life -- be it Olympics, World Cup or Champions Trophy. Three match is half of the World Cup. To penalise a player by suspending him half of a World Cup for an unintentional foul was enormous," said Brasa.
Former India captain Zafar Iqbal criticised the decision and said such unfair rulings were not surprising for the sub-continent teams.
"It was a very harsh decision and I don`t know on what basis they have given it. There was hardly any protest by the Pakistani players. The suspension for three matches is a big blow to India," Zafar said.
"It was not such a big matter, it was part of the game. The match between England and Australia was also very tough and witnessed such incident. The umpire himself has not seen it even though he was very close.”
"We Asian countries always have to go thorough such incidents, there is no doubt about it. They always think that we deliberately do it," he said.
Former player Aslam Sher Khan, who was a member of the 1975 World Cup winning side, agreed with Zafar, saying it was deliberately done to down India`s morale ahead of the match against Australia.
"Such a harsh decision should not have been given to Shivendra. He is one of our best strikers and his absence in the next three matches will definitely affect India. It`s a big blow to us.”
"I think it`s a conspiracy to make us weak psychologically before the Australia match. For Australia the match against us is a do-or-die game and Shivendra`s absence will definitely help them," he said.
Shivendra is a crucial cog in the forward-line and he opened India`s account against Pakistan yesterday by scoring from a rebound.
India has appealed against the suspension and the FIH has set up a jury, which will come out with its decision by Wednesday.
India play Australia in the next Pool B match on Wednesday, followed by ties against Spain on Thursday and England on Saturday.