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World body faces heat on IHF issue

india Updated: Feb 27, 2012 01:47 IST
Navneet Singh
Navneet Singh
Hindustan Times
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The international hockey federation's (FIH) legal battle with the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) could leave the former with egg on the face. HT has learnt that the FIH disciplinary committee has told FIH president, Leandro Negre, to settle the dispute amicably, as the dice is heavily loaded in IHF's favour.

The FIH had de-recognised the IHF and made Hockey India (HI) the sole body to run the sport in the country. A peeved IHF had then approached the disciplinary panel.

Crisis on the anvil

A source said that the first round had gone in IHF's favour, adding that, "The world body is staring at a big crisis. The disciplinary committee cannot hold back the decision for very long."

The source also said that if the case goes to the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS), headquartered in Lausanne, “the FIH might have to pay a huge compensation to the IHF, which might empty its coffers”.

“The amount could be three-four folds of what the FIH has earned from hosting international tournaments in the country so far,” he said.

Perhaps, this is the reason why the FIH top officials, including Negre, are holding regular meetings with the IHF.

FIH's main agenda during the meetings has been to end the legal wrangle. But nothing concrete has emerged so far.

Since the IHF is in a strong position, it is unlikely to compromise. The mood can be gauged from the fact that the discussion on the (IHF-HI) merger has been put on the backburner.

IHF president, RK Shetty, refused to share the details of the meetings. “My lawyers have told me not to speak,” he said.

The IHF has also reportedly told Negre that they would not merge with HI. It is the latter which will have to climb down. The IHF has also suggested a nine-point plan for the merger, which gives the body the upper hand.

Change of heart

Last year in July, when sports minister, Ajay Maken, had drawn up a 10-point plan for the merger of HI and IHF, the FIH had rubbished the move. So, why this overture now?

Over the years, the FIH has earned millions by giving hosting rights for major international tournaments to the Indian Olympic Association's (IOA) ad-hoc committee and HI. But they were oblivious to the trouble round the corner, as the IHF is the body recognised by the government.

When the threat of the IHF approaching CAS became a reality, the FIH finally woke up.