Will India be able to send its hockey teams abroad for competitions? If the current stalemate between the Sports Ministry and international hockey federation (FIH) continues, India could well miss out on some premier events.
The stand-off over the recognised National Sports Federation (NSF) persisted on Monday with both the FIH and Sports Ministry telling the other, through letters, to mind its business. It is clear that promotion of the sport in the country is far from their agenda.
While reiterating its stand that Hockey India (HI) was the officially recognised body, the FIH letter claimed the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) couldn't be recognised, as it did not comply with the international body's constitution.
It claimed that IHF was suspended in 2000 along with the Indian Women's Hockey Federation (IWHF) as they failed to merge into a single body.
FIH president, Leandro Negre, rejected the Sports Ministry's request to allow the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) or Sports Authority of India (SAI) to send teams for international tournaments. “Only HI is authorised to send a team to represent India in the Women's World Cup starting from August 29,” said Negre.
The Ministry was swift to retaliate, telling the FIH president that it was the prerogative of the government to decide which body will represent the country.
“The formation of an NSF for any sport lies within the domain of the country concerned, and the international federation should not get directly involved in that process,” said Joint Secretary (Sports), Injeti Srinivas.
He, however, conceded that the FIH was entitled to see whether the body follows its rules and statutes. "We assure you that the IHF will become fully compliant with the constitution of FIH, and therefore, the past should not be brought into the picture to affect the future of hockey in India."
Srinivas also rubbished the FIH contention that the IWHF has merged with HI and claimed that there can't be any merger without going through the legal process as per the Societies Registration Act. He informed the FIH that the Ministry had initiated the process to get the Registrar of Societies of Delhi to withdraw the permission for the use of “Hockey India” as it conveys the impression of government recognition or patronage.
Srinivas claimed that the IHF had informed the Delhi High Court on Monday that “IWHF and IHF will amalgamate (sic) into a single society as per law”.
India cling on to 9th spot
Eight-time Olympic champions India continued to languish at the ninth position in the latest men's world rankings issued by the International Hockey Federation (FIH).
With 1280 points, India are below arch-rivals Pakistan (1410) and just ahead of Canada (1221)in the top-10 list.