Hockey India (HI) put up a show in New Delhi on Monday possibly hoping that the glitz would help gloss over the problems of finance and factionalism that has left the sport wobbly.
It is also conjectural whether the afternoon do impressed FIH president Leandro Negro. For the Spaniard iterated that it is 'absolutely' necessary to have democratically elected body if India are to host next year's World Cup.
“They need to complete it (the election process) before the World Cup or India's chances to hold the tournament might suffer. The constitution of the FIH demands a democratically elected body to govern the sport of hockey in any country. No one person can become president without holding elections,” said Negre who heads hockey's world body. He had said this last May too.
The clock, therefore, is ticking for HI. To state that unification is a problem for HI would be understating the obvious. KPS Gill's joining hands with HI has been a boost but there is still a big group owing allegiance to Bengal Hockey Association president JB Roy and Amrit Bose of Delhi Women's Hockey Association. This group is still sticking to its demand for elections at IHF before its merger with IWHF and Hockey India and has threatened legal action.
It’s even messier at the states. Some are with HI and Gill, others with Roy and Bose. The case of Karnataka though is
curioser. Its secretary K Krishnamurthy attended a meeting at Aamby Valley (under Roy and Bose) while president RK Shetty was at a similar meeting called by Gill.
Even though the Roy-Bose group decided to merge the men and women's bodies at the state level, it has only happened in Bengal.
The IOA, as reported by HT on Monday, has been asked to help on the merger issue and HI president-in-charge AK Matoo clarified: “The IOA is only assisting us in the state affiliation process. When I feel they are interfering with our work, I will take matters in my own hand.” Negre though lives in hope. “I hope they complete the process in time,” he said.
And support or lack of it isn't HI's only problem. It depends on the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) largesse for survival because of a legal battle with its prime sponsor, the Sahara group. HT has learnt that HI owes Rs 1.10 crore to the IOA.
“It is a loan that Hockey India has taken to send out teams for foreign tours. As we don't have a sponsor at this moment, IOA has been bearing our expenses,” Mattoo, also the treasurer of the IOA, said.
“We have some reimbursements pending from the Sports Ministry and as soon as we get them, we will pay IOA,” Mattoo added.