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Hockey team says no pay, no play

“No pay, no play”. That's the message coming out loud and clear from the Indian hockey camp at the Shiv Chhatrapathi Sports Complex in Balewadi near Pune, reports B Shrikant.

india Updated: Jan 09, 2010 00:31 IST
B Shrikant

“No pay, no play”. That's the message coming out loud and clear from the Indian hockey camp at the Shiv Chhatrapathi Sports Complex in Balewadi near Pune.

Hurt and frustrated with Hockey India (HI), the interim body governing the sport in the country, for ignoring their demands for payment of allowances totalling Rs 25,000 each, 22 senior India players rebelled on Friday, refusing to participate in the camp for the 2010 World Cup in New Delhi.

This unprecedented revolt by the players is expected to hamper preparations for the World Cup as they are adamant and will not return to practice till their demands are met. The players claim that they are usually paid Rs 25,000 per tournament but haven't got that for the Champions Challenge I at Salta, Argentina, in November. Some claim that HI has not paid them anything for the four-nation tournament in Chandigarh early last year.

HT has learnt that the players have the tacit support of the coaching staff, which had warned HI officials of the discontent brewing in the camp. Last week, senior HI officials had met informally to discuss the issue while chief coach, Jose Brasa, is reported to have raised the issue at a meeting with camp coordinators in Pune last week.

The players also want HI to pay them some match fee and allowances to attend camp. They want compensation for the money they lose when not playing for their employers. “We get paid by our employers for representing them. Why shouldn't HI pay us for playing for them? HI is earning good money from sponsors, so why shouldn't some amount reach the players?” said skipper Rajpal Singh.

"It's not an issue of money alone, we are hurt by the attitude of HI officials who don't care for us,” he said.

In response, HI president AK Mattoo said he had no idea of what the problem was and would be meeting the players on Saturday to discuss the issue.

Former players have hailed the step as they feel this would help improve the financial conditions of the team.

“The players get paid for appearing for their employers, so why not from Hockey India? The federation earns money from sponsors then why doesn’t it pay the players?” asked Olympian and former India coach Joaquim Carvalho.

“We Olympians are in total support,” said another Olympian, Mukesh Kumar. “We had fought for match fee in 1996 and 1998 but the then IHF president, KPS Gill, not only denied us our due but also threw out six seniors. We were humiliated and forced to apologise. This lot has taken things further.” One hopes the current lot is successful in getting something their predecessors couldn’t.