The Government of India and FIH [International Hockey Federation] appear heading for a bitter showdown over the affiliation dispute, with the world body refusing to derecognise Hockey India and peeved Sports Ministry maintaining that a "private body" like Hockey India cannot be granted recognition.
In a virtual snub to the Sports Ministry, the FIH made it clear that Hockey India remains the sole recognised body to run the sport in the country as it is satisfied with its compliance with its charter.
The ministry shot back a letter saying Hockey India had lost its national character and, therefore, cannot be allowed to select or field the national team anymore.
The war of words has raised speculation of a protracted stand-off on the issue, with both the Sports Ministry and FIH sticking to their stands through letters exchanged during the last two days.
In a letter, dated August 7, 2010, FIH president Leandro Negre said Hockey India was formed after consulting the Sport Ministry and Indian Olympic Association and it has complied with the governing body's guidelines.
"At the outset we reiterate that we have already recognised Hockey India as a recognised body for the management, control and promotion for hockey in India, duly recognised by the IOA, based on the Olympic Movement/Charter and FIH statues," Negre said in his letter to the Sports Ministry.
"Hockey India had complied with all the requirements of FIH except elections. On 5 August 2010 Hockey India elections were conducted by a retired High Court Judge, IOA observer and in presence of FIH observer Mr Antonio Von Ondarza and we have noted this compliance on part of Hockey India and is satisfied with this compliance," he added.
Negre said FIH is "shocked" that despite the IHF's non-compliance with its statutes, the Sports Ministry is asking it to recognise the IHF.
"Strangely enough in the letter addressed to us you are calling upon us to recognise IHF which was derecognised by us back in 2000," he said.
"We are further shocked to note that in spite of being completely aware that IHF is non-compliant with our statues and in spite of the fact that it was derecognised by us in 2000 and further IHC floated by IHF and IWHF was derecognised by us on the ground that it was the defunct body you are now calling upon us to recognise IHF.
"In its reply, the ministry asked the FIH not to deal with HI any more as it has lost its national character and allow the IOA or the Sports Authority of India to field the Indian team for international events till the issue was resolved.
In the letter, joint secretary Injeti Srinivas said Hockey India (HI) is just a private body now and doesn't have the rights to select the team for international competitions.
"HI has lost its national character and therefore can not be allowed to select or field the national team anymore. We, therefore, once again request FIH to reconsider their decision and allow the IOA or the Sport Authority to field the Indian team in international competitions recognised by FIH, pending IHF becoming fully compliant with and gaining the recognition of FIH," Srinivas said.
Srinivas assured Negre that IHF and IWHF will soon amalgamate into a single society and will be fully compliant with the governing body's charter, after which the KPS Gill-led body will approach FIH for recognition.
"We fully appreciate and respect the statute of FIH, and there is no question of the Government compelling FIH to act in violation of their statute. Our letter of August 6th, 2010 clearly states that IHF and IWHF have been asked to amalgamate into a single society in accordance with the provisions of the society Registration Act, 1860," he said.
"This is a legal process that takes a minimum of 8 to 12 weeks. Once they complete this, they would become compliant with the requirements of FIH and only then, would they approach FIH for recognition", the letter said.
"In your letter under reference, you have written that IWHF have already merged into HI in 2008, which is factually not correct. HI and IWHF are two distinct societies even now, and there can be no merger without going through the legal process required to be undergone as per the relevant provisions of the societies registration Act", Srinivas said.
"Since HI stands derecognised and is no more authorized to function as the NSF for hockey in India, it has to change its name and revise its memorandum of Association to fit with its private character. The registrar of societies has been informed accordingly," he added.
The Sport Ministry recently withdrew its provisional recognition from Hockey India after it refused to comply with the government guideline on age limitation and went ahead with its elections.
The ministry then recognised the KPS Gill-led IHF as the sole governing body of the sport and dashed off a letter to FIH president Negre, intimating him of the development and asking him to recognise IHF.