Indian hockey plunged into fresh controversy with reports of a players' revolt against its foreign coach, Jose Brasa, who is accused of being bias and autocratic in his functioning.
Some senior players, including former captain Sandeep Singh, have written to Hockey India against the Spanish coach, prompting the body's president, A K Mattoo, to fly to Pune to sort out the issue.
The players are in a training camp, at Pune's Balewadi Complex, in preparation for the Champions Challenge tournament at Salta, Argentina, from December 6 to 13.
A top Hockey India source confirmed that a letter was sent to the hockey establishment by some disgruntled players, who accused Brasa of deliberately sidelining them.
None of the Hockey India officials were available for comment on the latest development, which has come barely a few weeks before the team's trip to Argentina.
The breakdown in relations between the coach and some senior players came about immediately after Sandeep Singh was sacked as captain during India's seven-match series against Canada recently.
A Hockey India official however sought to play down the development, saying there is no revolt against the coach.
"How can you call it a revolt when these six or seven players are not in the squad. Some of them are injured while others could not make the cut when the squad was pruned," said the official, who did not want to be named.
The seniors are unhappy with the coach, who they allege insults the players and has a dictatorial attitude.
Brasa, who took over as coach in May, was having a problem with Sports Authority of India officials over procurement of equipment.
He was sent to India as part of the FIH's initiative to help the country regain lost hockey glory. He has a contract with the Sports Authority of India that runs till the 2010 Asian Games.
Brasa took over the reins of the Indian hockey team after the
acrimonious exit of legendary Australian player Ric Charlesworth, whose tenure as Technical Director was marked by a series of controversies.
It is learnt that the players are unhappy with Brasa including Ignace Tirkey and Prabodh Tirkey, who are not in the squad for the Salta tournament but part of the core group preparing for the Commonwealth Games.
The players are also miffed with the appointment of Rajpal as new captain. They point out that he has little experience and was not a regular member of the team.
Sandeep Singh opted out of the ongoing camp because of a back injury and there is still some confusion about how serious it is or how long he will be out of the game.
Brasa though does enjoy the support of some players, who say the so-called revolt is the handiwork of some disgruntled players who could not make it to the team on merit.
"If these players had problems why did they did not raise it earlier and sort it out with the coaching staff. Why are they raising issues just before the tournament?" a player who is in the team said.