Lahore: Trouble seems to be brewing between Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and top national players after reports suggested that latter are planning to feature in the World Series Hockey to be held in India later this month.
Though the PHF has warned that any player who would participate in the WSH, which is not sanctioned by the International Hockey Federation, will be banned in Pakistan, around 10 players have already applied for their visas to the Indian High Commission.
To make matters worse, the PHF while announcing new central contracts, have dropped captain Muhammad Imran and seniors like Salman Akbar and Waseem Ahmed. And recalled forward Rehan Butt.
But central contracts are unlikely to have any impact on the players, who have already made up their minds to go to India for the WSH.
"What difference does the contracts make as the PHF doesn`t have money for the players. The last contracts expired in August last year and since then the players have not received a single penny," a senior player said.
Former Olympian Samiullah said while it was disappointing that the PHF couldn`t pay the players their central contract amounts, what is worst is, so far it had not even cleared the prize money it had promised the players for winning the Asian Games last year.
"I see a serious conflict brewing between players and the federation as some of the players are unhappy with the way the federation is running hockey," he said.
Although the PHF is tight-lipped about the WSH issue, sources claimed that the federation is concerned about a possible exodus of top players before the Olympics due to the lucrative money being offered by the league organisers.
"We know some players have applied for Indian visas but most of them are those who are not in contention for national selection now. But yes, we wouldn`t like to lose more players," a PHF official said.
Former Olympians expect a big crisis before the Olympics just as it happened in 1996 when a player revolt broke out on the day the squad for the Olympics was to be named.
The PHF has awarded central contracts in categories of 50,000, 40,000 and 30,000 to following players:
Category A: Sohail Abbas, Fareed Ahmed, Rashid Mahmood, Shakeel Abbasi, Waqas Sharif and Rehan Butt.
Category B: Imran Shah, Muhammad Irfan, Rizwan Senior, Abdul Haseem Khan and Shafqat Rasool.
Category C: Kashif Shah, M Tousiq, Muhammad Zubair, Ali Shan, Rizwan Junior and Umar Bhutta.
Juniors: Mazhar Abbas, Kashif Javed, Tasawwar Abbas, Muhammad Irfan, Ammad Butt and Muhammad Suleman.