The crisis in Indian hockey was resolved on Wednesday after Indian Olympic [ Images ] Association president Suresh Kalmadi [ Images ] brokered a compromise deal between the game's administrators and striking players, who have been promised immediate disbursement of Rs one crore.
Kalmadi, who flew to Pune in the morning to hold negotiations with the protesting players, said a full settlement was reached and "everybody is happy about it".
"Hockey has been our national game. It can never be a national shame. It will be our national pride. The players all feel that they want to bring up Indian hockey. I assured them of full support," Kalmadi told a press conference after his meeting with the players.
Kalmadi, who is also chairman of the 2010 Commonwealth Games [ Images ], said that the Rs one crore given by sponsors Sahara India [ Images ] will be disbursed among the players within a week and all other issues will be settled in due course of time.
The settlement of the crisis, which dogged Indian hockey for the last five days, paves the way for the players to rejoin the World Cup preparatory camp from Thursday.
Kalmadi also said that a Players' Welfare Development Fund will be created and former India captain Dhanraj Pillay, who also played a key role in resolving the crisis, has been put in charge.
Kalmadi also made it clear that no player will be victimized for boycotting the camp.
"No player will be targeted. They have done it within decorum. I will also tell the next HI president to agree to the players' demand."
He said various state governments, like Punjab [ Images ], Madhya Pradesh [ Images ], Maharashtra [ Images ] and Uttar Pradesh [ Images ], promised financial support to the players, while some corporate houses have also assured monetary help.
"In view of all this we have also decided to form another committee to look into the finances. This committee will be chaired by the Hockey India president and will also include representatives from the IOA and players like Zafar Iqbal, Ajit Pal Singh, MP Ganesh and Pillay.
"I would request them to hold shows and concerts so that more funds can be generated for the players. I would also request Subhash Ghai [ Images ] to help. This money will not only help the current players but also the old hockey players who are in dire need," he said.
Kalmadi said the players have given him a list of their demands and they wanted a commitment on the graded payment system and solutions to sum up their demands before the World Cup.
"I have given them assurances, they are satisfied," he added.
The players, who were also present at the press conference, were asked if any written assurance was given to them. To which senior player Deepak Thakur replied: "Mr Kalmadi is present here as the IOA president and we have no reason to disbelieve him.
"Within one week our dues will be given. Mr Kalmadi has assured us that the new HI body will be looking into our demands. All we wanted is a secure future. We don't want to remain insecure".
When Kalmadi was asked whether he was willing to give a written undertaking, he shot back, "There is no question of a written assurance. I am here as the IOA president and it is my responsibility to ensure that the players get their dues.
"We have no doubt on the integrity of the players. We have also no doubt of the integrity of Mattoo (Hockey India president). He is a highly efficient administrator. We now want to move on."
That the crisis would be resolved today had become quite apparent in the morning itself, when team sponsor Sahara India decided to release Rs one crore immediately to be distributed only among the striking players.
"In the genuine interest of the national hockey players, Sahara India Pariwar has decided to pay immediately Rs one crore in suspense account to Hockey India, only for distribution to the players so that they can peacefully and happily practice and play for the country," Sahara said.