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Olympians slam move to form Hockey India

Source: PTI
June 04, 2009 19:28 IST
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Seething with indignation, Olympians Joaquim Carvalho, Gurbux Singh and Gavin Fereira on Thursday hit out at the Indian Olympic Association for forming Hockey India, a unified body embracing the men's and women's units, in an "undemocratic manner".

Gurbux, a member of the bronze medal-winning 1968 Mexico Olympics squad, termed it "a joke perpetrated on Indian hockey" and called on Sports Minister M S Gill to intervene.

Former India coach Carvalho, a member of the Indian squad that took part in the 1984 Los Angeles Games and an Arjuna awardee to boot, was scathing in his attack.

"I ask one question. Will Suresh Kalmadi (IOA president) allow six other persons to form a body called Athletics India and give it recognition? The IOA has had long feuds with the IHF, but this time it has gone way too much," he said.

Fereira, who played in the 1996 Atlanta Games, wondered whether this is the end of the Indian Hockey Federation and said the undemocratic manner in which Hockey India was formed was only to ensure India hosted next year's World Cup.

"I don't understand. Is it the end of IHF? I have been in hockey for several years and I don't know most of the people on the committee. It has been done in an undemocratic manner for hosting the World Cup. Who are these people and how are they going to run the game?" he asked.

In a hurriedly-convened press conference in New Delhi on Wednesday, Kalmadi announced that Hockey India was formed on May 20 with a seven-member governing council led-by A K Mattoo as interim president and Vidya Stokes as vice-president.

Kalmadi had said Hockey India was formed after the IOA received a warning letter from the International Hockey Federation (FIH) on May 5 in which the world body had expressed concerns about the existence of two hockey federations (separately for men and women) in the country.

The FIH also set IOA a 15-day deadline to act, failing which it threatened to take away the hosting rights of next year's World Cup from India as well as their participation rights in international events, Kalmadi had said.

"The Government of India and FIH have been apprised of the development," he said.

Reacting further to this development, Gurbux pointed out that there was none with hockey background in the newly formed Hockey India committee and expressed concern that such a panel would be at the helm for two or three years.

"There's not even one person in this committee who's connected with hockey. How are they going to run the game? What have they all done in their own sports? They will just hang on for two or three years," the former international said.

The one-time ace inside-right said the best way forward would be to hold elections of the Indian Hockey Federation.

Carvalho asked whether there were provisions in the IOA constitution for taking such an action and whether it had the guts to interfere in the affairs of other sports.

"Does the IOA's constitution permit such a take-over? Will these stooges of Kalmadi have the guts to form Football India and will it get recognition from the IOA?" Carvalho queried.

The former half-back also questioned the track record of some of the committee members of the newly-formed Hockey India and wanted them to first set their houses in order before jumping on the hockey bandwagon.

"And all these persons on the committee, who run other games, should set their houses in order and then try to run hockey. I want to ask them what is their track record?" Carvalho questioned.

As a solution, Carvalho wanted the elections of the suspended IHF to be held immediately and let the new office-bearers get into discussions with the women's federation to merge.

In this connection Carvalho also took a dig at the FIH and said the world body needs to realise that India is a vast country and it should not be compared with the federations existing in countries like Germany, Spain etc.

"It's high time that Union Sports Minister M S Gill intervenes," he suggested.

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