Upset over the directive from Hockey India (Hockey India) to merge into a single unit before seeking its affiliation, three Maharashtra units, who were part of the erstwhile Indian Hockey Federation, were up in arms against HI on Wednesday.
Mumbai Hockey Association, Pune-based Maharashtra HA and the Nagpur-based Vidarbha HA came under one umbrella on Wednesday to defy Hockey India's orders to merge into one single unit and also threatened to take legal recourse to remain as separate units.
"Merger of men and women bodies is welcome but merger of three associations is uncalled for. We appeal to the Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh), Sports Minister (M S Gill) and Mrs Sonia Gandhi (Congress party president) to clear this mess in hockey," said Mumbai HA spokesperson and Olympian Joaquim Carvalho on Wednesday.
Alleging a big game was being played by Hockey India officials, who have affiliated units with very little hockey credentials but headed by themselves, Carvalho said the three hockey bodies in Maharashtra "will wait for a couple of days" before taking a legal course to resolve the issue.
"We (the three units) will not hesitate to take legal action," he declared.
Carvalho debunked the claims of HI, temporarily headed by Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi, that the International Hockey Federation (FIH) wanted one unit per state affiliated to the new pan-India body.
"Maharashtra is bigger than countries like Holland, Germany and Spain. The merger of our three bodies would also deprive players of jobs in institutions like the Railways. I don't think the FIH wants a merger of all associations in one state into one single body," he said.
Carvalho also pointed out that Mumbai HA, earlier Bombay Hockey Association, was a founder member of the now defunct IHF and had the distinction of having conducted the lone World Cup tournament held in India, in 1981-82.
"We have also produced several Olympians and internationals. How can they not give us affiliation while affiliating states like Arunachal Pradesh, Andaman and Nicobar, Tripura, Mizoram etc which has very little hockey activity?" he questioned.
The former national team coach said other states having more than one unit, like Andhra and Hyderabad, Punjab and Patiala, MP and Madhya Bharat, are also not in favour of merging into one.
Benny Boodle of the Maharashtra HA said his association has said no to Hockey India on merger of the three units into one single body.
"We have told HI don't destabilise the game. There are no such guidelines from FIH," he said.
"We are totally against this merger. This will be detrimental to the game," he added.