Pained at the crisis, which Indian hockey finds itself in, Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan on Monday hoped that the disgruntled players would end their strike soon after reaching an amicable agreement with the administrators.
Shah Rukh, who played a hockey coach in the much-acclaimed movie Chak De! India, sympathised with the players who resumed their indefinite strike on Monday protesting non-payment of dues and incentives but felt it was an unfortunate development since the World Cup is just round the corner.
"Hockey is very special and our national sport...What has happened is very sad," Shah Rukh told reporters in Kolkata.
Asked if the players were right to boycott the national camp in Pune, Shah Rukh said, "Everyone has to take a stand in the way they feel but I hope the issue gets resolved.
"It's not nice that there is a strike and it's not nice either if players go out to play when they are actually unhappy and unattended to in some matters of economics. I hope it gets resolved soon," he said.
Hockey India apparently managed to broker peace when they met six of the senior players, including captain Rajpal Singh, in Delhi on Saturday but the players were back on the warpath again from today, rejecting the offer made to them.
Shah Rukh said the solution has to be acceptable to both parties.
"As Indians, we should hope that the strike ends and both parties are happy -- the administrators are happy and the players even happier," he said.
The actor also asked media not to overplay the issue.
"Our idea should not be to make a big thing of the strike. This kind of stuff is not going to augur well for the game," said the actor.
Shah Rukh said he considered hockey special because of his early memories of the game.
"I have a strong affinity with the game since my father and I used to play it. I grew up in the legacy of Aslam Sher Khan, Mohd Shahid and Pargat Singh. I know how great the game is," said the actor.
Earlier, Shah Rukh had used his Twitter page to back the players.
"(I) feel awful for the Indian hockey team. To play for the country... (the) national sport and have to ask for salary. And we complain we don't win gold," wrote the actor who co-owns Kolkata Knight Riders in Indian Premier League.
Shah Rukh said he decided to venture into IPL to prove that sports could be a profession for an youngster.
"Sport is never given the kind of importance it should be given in our country. And all sports should get equal importance. Of late, cricket is getting some attention.
"The reason of my buying an IPL team is to prove that sports can be a profession for an youngster -- be it cricket, hockey or soccer," he said.