It was in 1995 that the International Hockey Federation (FIH) threw spanner in the works of the Indira Gandhi Gold Cup organisers, who wanted to award Maruti Esteem cars to players. The FIH argued that hockey players are amateurs and should not be given costly awards.
It seems nothing much has changed in a decade or so and the same argument holds in hockey, as officials from Germany and the Netherlands put spokes in the plans for awarding Rs 1 crore as prize-money to players of what would arguably be the most expensive hockey tournament in India.
Organisers of the four-nation Punjab Gold Cup involving the Netherlands, Germany and Pakistan besides hosts India, to be held in two legs at Chandigarh and Jalandhar between the last week of January and first week of February, were forced to change their plans because the Dutch and German federations objected to the players being given such a huge sum. Instead, they wanted the money to be given to them so that it could be used for their youth development programmes.
"The Punjab government, the main sponsor of the tournament, had proposed Rs 1 crore as prize fund but the German and Holland hockey federations objected to the players getting the prize money. They suggested that the respective federations directly receive the money, utilising it for their youth programmes," a source close to the organisers told Hindustan Times.
The tournament is also facing trouble on another front as Pakistan's participation is under a cloud following the Indian junior team's withdrawal from a tour across the border citing security concerns.
Former India captain Pargat Singh, who is heading the organising committee, said: "We are in talks with Pakistan Hockey Federation to get things sorted out. However, if they pull out, we are looking at Australia as a possible replacement.
"We are also looking for sponsors and plan to sell television rights for such a major tournament. The tournament will surely happen, but some last minute planning has to be completed to get things in order."
The tournament, which has got the go ahead from the IHF ad hoc committee, will be one of the major hockey tournaments to be hosted by India.
BP, India Colts register win
Bharat Petroleum and India Colts registered convincing victories to book their place in the semi-finals of the 45th Jindal Steel Nehru Hockey
Tournament on Friday.
The Indian colts showed character to come from a goal down and beat defending champions Punjab and Sind Bank 4-3.
After Ranjodh Singh put the Punjab and Sind team in front, they dominated the early part of the first half showing experience and endurance. But the colts struck back in the 22nd minute to draw parity. After the equaliser, it was all colts as they dominated the their fancied opponents.