Mumbai: Former players Maharaj Krishan Kaushik and M P Singh on Monday slammed the International Hockey Federation for "interfering" in the affairs of the game in the country and also dared the FIH to ban India from international competitions.
"FIH is interfering too much into the Indian hockey affairs and trying to dictate terms. I dare it to ban India from hockey. It cannot survive after doing so, as most of the sponsors for hockey are from India," said former full back Singh.
Kaushik, also an Arjuna awardee like Singh, concurred with the latter`s views and said that FIH`s interference in Indian hockey was "totally wrong".
"FIH`s approach is totally wrong. They are supporting Hockey India as it is easier for them to control HI officials than those from the Indian Hockey Federation," said former winger Kaushik, who also coached the national women`s team for years.
IHF was the controlling body for the game in the country for decades, till it was de-recognised by the world body which then gave recognition to a new body - Hockey India.
"FIH cannot dictate terms to the Indian government and Sports minister. They should look at Malaysia, where there is no single unit controlling the game," said Kaushik.
FIH has threatened to ban India from international competitions, including next year`s London Olympic qualifiers, unless the game in the country conforms to the International Olympic Committee`s Charter and its own statutes of having one single recognised controlling body.
In a letter written last month to the Sports Ministry, FIH president Leandro Negre said that his federation recognised only Hockey India as the governing body for the sport and urged not to implement a power sharing deal it brokered between HI and IHF.
The FIH also wanted the Indian government to settle the money owed to it for organising the World Cup in New Delhi in March last year.
"If the above is achieved... there will be no more concerns about the participation of Indian hockey team in FIH-sanctioned competitions such as London 2012 Olympic Games," Negre wrote.
Kaushik said even if the FIH takes away the Olympic qualifiers from Indian shores, as it had done with the Champions Trophy on the same governance issues, the Indian team should take it as a challenge and put its best foot forward.
"They (Indian players) should take it as a challenge. We are good enough to qualify even if the tournament is held outside. We deserve to be in the Olympics and we will qualify," Kaushik said confidently.
M P Singh also saw the Indian team`s chances of qualifying for the London Games as bright, but wanted the team to be given enough international exposure before the qualifiers.
"India can definitely qualify. The players are good, as they showed by winning the Asian Champions Trophy. They just need more international exposure," he said.
While Kaushik complimented new national coach Michael Nobbs for having started his stint well, Singh said it was too early to say anything and preferred to wait and watch.
"It`s too early to comment on Nobbs. Things can`t happen overnight. The Australians learnt from Balkishen Singh`s coaching methods and introduced them into their system. We have to start the new system at the schools, colleges and hockey academies levels," Singh said.
Both the ex-players saw the forthcoming World Series Hockey as a good joint initiative of Nimbus Sports and IHF.
"It`s a very good proposal and very motivating for the players. It will benefit the players and would also popularise the sport," Kaushik said.
Singh, a former coach of the Indian men`s team, likened the WSH, carrying a cash prize of USD 2 million, to Kerry Packer`s World Series Cricket that revolutionised the willow game in the late 1970s by bringing in night cricket and coloured clothing, apart from huge money to the players.
"Kerry Packer changed cricket and the authorities had to come to a deal with him. We started the (defunct) Premier Hockey League, which was copied by the Indian Premier League. Now the proposed WSH is a very good move and beneficial for the game," he said.
He also backed former captain Dhanraj Pillai`s recent suggestion that Indian hockey players should get match fees of Rs 25,000 per game.
"I support it. We used to get 25 to 30 dollars (as match allowance). The players should be paid Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000 per match. It will make hockey popular among the masses. Hockey cannot grow otherwise," he commented.