In the blame game that followed the international hockey federation’s (FIH) decision to scrap New Delhi as host of the Champions Trophy, a statement by the acting president of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), VK Malhotra, caught the eye. He blamed sports minister, Ajay Maken, for the “mess” that resulted in FIH taking such a drastic step.
In scoring brownie points, Malhotra is ignoring the fact that the IOA is to be blamed for India losing face in the international community once again.
It was the IOA that disaffiliated and suspended the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) in 2008 without following proper procedure — its decision failed to withstand judicial scrutiny, resulting in the revival of the IHF two years later.
A new entity
Rather than helping in the merger of the existing associations for men and women, it was the IOA that forced the birth of a new entity, Hockey India.
Despite the court overturning its decision, the IOA still believed the IHF edifice, which had grown over seven decades, would vanish in thin air.
On its part, the FIH’s mistake was its blind faith in IOA to solve the problem. Having burnt its fingers while dealing with the IHF, the world body saw a messiah in the then IOA president, Suresh Kalmadi.
The FIH is now paying the price, as its share of revenue from the 2010 World Cup is stuck as the Indian government scrutinises every deal signed by IOA following the CWG scam. Though HI officials claim that financial matters were not behind the decision, they admit that FIH might be worried about Champions Trophy monies.
The sports ministry’s ‘fault’ in this mess was to follow the IOA initially and then attempt to mop up the dirt by forcing two sets of egoistical administrators into an unworkable power-sharing agreement.
The fact that nothing much has moved in the 40-odd days since HI and IHF signed the “working agreement” is proof of its fallibility. The defence the two bodies put up to the FIH a fortnight back was too iffy, forcing the world body to act.
Now that the FIH has taken the drastic step, it is high time the likes of Malhotra, Maken, Narinder Batra (HI secretary-general) and RK Shetty (IHF president) realise their mistakes and sit together to work out a solution.
India can’t afford to lose the chance of hosting international competitions or the right to participate in them. September 13, when FIH president Leandro Negre is expected to meet Maken in Delhi, will be the D-day for them.