FIH gives a month to HI and IHF to work out merger formula

New Delhi: The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has given the two warring factions, Hockey India (HI) and the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) a month`s time to sort out their differences over power sharing and form a unified body.

After two days of discussions with HI officials and former IHF president and now its adviser K.P.S. Gill and his team, FIH president Leandro Negre told IANS that within a month both the parties should find a solution to merge.

"We had fruitful talks for the last two days. We have given them a month`s time to put a seal on the the merger agreement. After a month, I will visit India again and then we will sit down with HI and IHF to find a solution," Negre said Sunday.

During the meeting, FIH asked IHF and HI to stop taking pot-shots at each other through the media.

"We have asked both the parties to stop verbal spats. It is time for serious discussions because a unified body is a must for better administration of the game in the country," he said.

Negre appreciated IHF`s effort to start the World Series Hockey (WSH), starting Wednesday, but said the league cannot have the approval of the world body.

"The WSH is a great concept and it has the potential to give a boost to the sport. But we cannot approve the league. We will only approve leagues which are run by Hockey India. So for the betterment of the sport both HI and IHF have to come together and form a unified body," he said.

IHF president R.K. Shetty said he will sit down with HI immediately after the conclusion of the 2012 London Olympic qualifiers and try to sort out all outstanding issues.

"Things are moving in the right direction. We have to find a solution quickly. Mr. Narendra Batra (secretary general of Hockey India) has been co-operative and I am hopeful that we will find a solution soon," Shetty told IANS.

Sport minister Ajay Maken is also working behind the scenes to bring the two parties to the discussion table and hammer out a solution agreeable to all.

Meanwhile, Shetty said that FIH cannot ban players from playing in the WSH, promoted by by IHF along with Nimbus Sports.

"The FIH itself had given in writing last year that it won`t ban players who have signed a contract with WSH before March 30, 2010," he said.