India would lose the hosting rights for the next year's hockey World Cup if the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) fails to install a democratically elected unified body — within six months — to govern the sport in the country.
International Hockey Federation (FIH) president Leandro Negre issued a warning to the IOA, which is currently governing the sport through an ad-hoc body, that only an elected body could host the tournament as per FIH norms.
Negre is leading a FIH delegation to assess the preparations for the 2010 World Cup, scheduled to be held in New Delhi in March and was speaking to reporters at the end of their three-day visit.
The delegation held discussions with the IOA, the sports ministry and other stakeholders. Though it was satisfied with the preparations for the tournament, it was crystal clear on the issue of an unified body and elections.
“We would love to conduct the World Cup in India as planned. But we cannot go against the rules and India needs to get a unified body to conduct the tournament. We have been assured by the IOA, that the body will be formed within six months and we are very confident on their word,” said Negre.
Negre also met J.B Roy, President of the Bengal Hockey Federation, who along with 28 other state associations have been urging the IOA to conduct elections. Negre effectively gave a nod to their demand.
“The ad hoc committee is a provisional body. India needs a settled and a democratic body. But we are here to learn and give advice.”
The FIH President also made it clear that they have a Plan B in place in case the World Cup is pulled out of India.
“It is our responsibility to have a back up plan in case we are left with no option. If World Cup is not possible in India, then we will keep it in Asia, with Malaysia being a possible option,” he said.
The IOA, however, remained confident of forming a unified body in the stipulated time frame.
“We have compiled a plan of action and we will be soon carrying out the necessary steps to shape up Hockey India within the next six months,” said Randhir Singh, secretary general, IOA.
Randhir Singh though didn't throw light on the plan of action that the IOA would be adopting.
Also, the ad hoc committee has failed to submit a plan for elections to the Delhi High Court bench hearing a petition filed by KPS Gill. The ad hoc committee was supposed to submit the plan on March 2 but has not done so till now. The petition will now be heard after the summer vacation.
Meanwhile, the matter regarding registering Hockey India as governing body for both men’s and women’s hockey remains unsolved as the issue of IHF suspension is still pending in the court. The existence of Hockey India will be in doubt in case of an adverse verdict regarding the IHF suspension.