The Indian Olympic Association’s (IOA) reported attempt to merge the two national hockey governing bodies - the Indian Hockey Federation (men) and the Indian Women’s Hockey Association (IWHF) - has raised hackles in some quarters.
Speaking to IANS in Chennai on Friday, Kannan Krishnamurthy, secretary of the Karnataka State Hockey Association, said: “We have learnt that the IOA has taken the initiative to merge the two units, IHF and the IWHA, in view of the notice issued by the International Hockey Federation (FIH). We strongly object to the IOA’s unilateral move to call the IWHA officials for a meeting in this regard."
"The merger can only be performed by the elected representatives of the two bodies and not the IOA,” he said.
The FIH issued a stern warning in April that unless the two governing bodies unite into Hockey India, representing the interests of both men’s and women’s hockey within the next six months, the 2010 World Cup allotted to India would be shifted to Malaysia.
Krishnamurthy, who is being projected as a strong candidate for the post of IHF secretary if and when fresh elections are held to the now-suspended body, said: “Yes, there is a need to merge the two federations, but that is something only the stakeholders can initiate. The IOA is exceeding its brief by wanting to conduct a dialogue with the IWHA on the matter of merger.”
He said of more urgency is elections to the IHF that was suspended a year ago by the IOA in the wake of a bribery scandal involving the then secretary-general K Jothikumaran, who has since resigned. In its place, the IOA appointed an ad hoc body comprising Olympians and former India players to administer the sport.
“It has been over a year now since the IHF was suspended and we feel the first corrective step would be to conduct free and fair elections. Once the new office-bearers are elected, they in turn can have discussions with the women’s federation about merger. The IOA, on its part, cannot be a part of this process,” said Krishnamurthy.
In March, some 28 state associations, all affiliated to the IHF, had submitted a memorandum to the IOA requesting it to call for a general body meeting and elections.
“It is imperative that the country’s hockey affairs are run by the IHF and not the IOA or its extension which is the ad hoc committee. As it is, the IOA is seized of more important matters such as the Commonwealth Games in Delhi next year. In the process, there is needless delay in setting right matters in the IHF. So far, the IOA is still to respond to our memorandum,” he said.
“The IOA has no palpable reason to hang on to the power and they have no idea as how to proceed further. Domestic hockey calendar has taken a big beating though it is to be lauded that the national teams are provided adequate support and encouragement by allowing them to take part in various international events. But, we cannot understand as to why the ad-hoc committee is still not inclined to hand over the administration to the actual stakeholders who are the state associations and affiliated units of the IHF,” he added.
Contributing the delay is the case filed by IHF president KPS Gill, seeking a reversal of the suspension, Krishnamurthy pointed out.
He hoped that the IWHA officials would desist from meeting the IOA officials on the merger issue. “In fact, the IWHF must tell IOA that it shall only deal with the representatives of IHF,” Krishnamurthy said.