The Indian cricket team's return home on Wednesday after winning the Twenty20 World Championship was marred by a reported threat that some hockey players will go on a hunger strike to protest against the "step-motherly treatment" to the game, even as the hockey federation later clarified there will not be any protests.
As the Indian team led by Mahendra Singh Dhoni was accorded a grand welcome in Mumbai culminating in a felicitation function, a section of electronic media reported chief hockey coach Joaquim Carvalho as saying that a few hockey players will go on a hunger strike to protest the poor treatment meted out to the national game.
The reports, however, were rubbished by Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) general secretary K Jyothikumaran, who said that no player or coach was going on a hunger strike.
"All the news appearing in the news channels about the players and coaches going on a hunger strike are baseless and false. I have spoken to all the players, managers and coaches and no one is going on hunger strike," Jyothikumaran told IANS.
After winning a thrilling final against arch-rivals Pakistan in Johannesburg Monday, the Indian team has been showered with monetary rewards - the Indian cricket board announced a whopping $2 million reward for the team, while various state governments have announced cash rewards and other incentives for individual players as well as the eleven.
Carvalho was opposed to this and was quoted as saying that four players and a coach will go on an indefinite hunger strike in front of the Karanataka chief minister's house.
"I am okay with cricketers winning (the championship). I am proud of their achievements. But where were the state governments when we won the Asia Cup? I am upset about that," the chief coach was quoted as saying by a news channel.
The Indian hockey team retained the Asia Cup gold last month, but no state government then announced any rewards for the hockey players.
According to Carvalho's statement, four players Vikram Kanth, V Raghunath, SV Sunil and Ignace Tirkey, assistant coach Ramesh Parameswaran and manager RK Shetty were to go on a hunger strike.
But Jyothikumaran rubbished Carvalho's claims and said: "The news of a hunger strike is false from the very fact that out of the four players who were supposed to go on strike three are plying their trade in the local leagues in Germany."