On Tuesday, Hockey India brought in international hockey federation (FIH) vice-president Antonio von Ondarza to further their cause. Ondarza told the players that hockey didn’t generate enough money for the federation to pay them. Ondarza was defensive when asked whether that meant that the players played for free. He said that world over, governments paid players through subsidies, exemplified by Germany.
“Hockey does not generate as much money as football so we can't pay them. But we have an exciting product and are hopeful of generating good money in future. That's why I asked them to pay for the pride of the India shirt and not think about other things. Hockey India will take care of them.”
The players weren’t too taken with Ondarza’s viewpoint. Instead, they offered to play the World Cup by pooling in money if HI was broke. “We will pay for our own accommodation and other expenses during the World Cup as the federation claims they have no money,'' said Prabhjot Singh, the players' representative. “Some of us have played 10 years for this country with no match fee. Don't we deserve anything?” he asked.
Deepak Thakur added that they were “losing around Rs 50,000 or so by not representing our employers in various tournaments while attending the India camp. We are not running after money but are fighting for our rights.”
“We know that if we agree to their verbal assurances, some of us players at the forefront of this will not figure in the team ever,'' he added.
All 22 players appeared before the media to display their unity.