The striking hockey players have been given 24 hours to report for practice or face the consequences, informed sources told HT.
Earlier in the day, Hockey India president A.K. Mattoo told the media in New Delhi that a complete ban on all 22 players who had been selected for the training camp at the Shiv Chhattrapati Sports Complex at Belawadi near Pune, but who have refused to come out and practice demanding that their pending dues be paid first, was indeed being considered.
In that case, he added, India will field a second-string squad in the World Cup, which begins in New Delhi on February 28.
Unlike in other sports, where last minute replacements to World Cup squads can get complicated, hockey associations can submit their full list of 18 players even 30 days before the event and even afterwards can change a squad, if required.
HT has learnt that the 22 players at the camp have demanded Rs 3.5 lakh each as reward for their performances in tournaments last year. Mattoo has reportedly offered them only Rs 25,000 apiece.
Meanwhile, the players’ strike entered an unprecedented fourth day on Monday. “We waited all of Monday but no one came to talk to us,” said senior player Prabhjot Singh.
So far, players have refused to budge. “We will not resume practice till HI officials consider our demands and pay our pending rewards,” said Singh.
The players said they would continue efforts to maintain fitness through lengthy walks, stretching and exercises but would not return to practice.