On Sunday, a week after the India players declared a truce with Hockey India (HI), Ashok Kumar Mattoo resigned as HI president. He also resigned from all other posts he held with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and Commonwealth Games Organising Committee.
In a letter to the IOA president, Suresh Kalmadi, Mattoo cited “personal allegations” hurled at him during the HI-players’ deadlock as the reason for his resignation. “I’m saddened by what has happened in the last few weeks. Allegations from various quarters have hurt me, and I thought enough is enough,” Mattoo told HT.
Justifying his decision to resign from other sports bodies (he’s the treasurer of both the IOA and the Commonwealth Games Organising Committee), Mattoo said it was a logical step. “Once you are branded as inefficient in a particular post, it reflects in every position one holds. I have given more than 30 years to sports administration… I am sure of my decision,” he said.
With HI elections scheduled for Feb. 7, Mattoo did not regret the timing. “I had always maintained that I was not going to contest the elections. I was expected to set up a machinery that would hold elections and I have fulfilled the responsibility,” he said.
Interestingly, players and officials have reacted with compassion for Mattoo. Prabhjot Singh, India forward, said Mattoo may have had personal reasons. “At a personal level, he was a soft person. But citing players’ demand as the reason for his resignation would be incorrect as we were right in demanding our dues. We have no enmity with him,” he said. Prabhjot had, however, demanded that HI officials resign if they couldn’t raise funds.
Former skipper Pargat Singh went a step further, saying the decision may have been prompted by “influential quarters” within HI. “The man (Mattoo) was under pressure. There were other forces within HI working towards different ends and his resignation could be a fallout of the conflict,” he said.
K.P.S. Gill, chief of erstwhile Indian Hockey Federation, termed Mattoo’s resignation as meaningless. “It doesn’t mean anything as the inception of HI itself was illegal,” he said.
Kalmadi, who was in Pune till late on Sunday, could not be reached. Vidya Stokes, a member of HI, said she was unaware of Mattoo’s resignation.