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Hockey World League Semi-Final: Oltmans was aware of India’s black armband protest

India’s black armband protest during the Hockey World League semi-final match versus Pakistan continues to be a talking point. Coach Roelant Oltmans has steered clear of the controversy.

other sports Updated: Jun 24, 2017 23:35 IST
Soumitra Bose
Roelant Oltmans did his best to steer clear of the black armbands controversy.
Roelant Oltmans did his best to steer clear of the black armbands controversy. (AFP/Getty Images)

More than the big wins against arch-rivals Pakistan, India’s black armband protest on June 18 continues to be a talking point as the Hockey World League semi-final enters its final phase here.

India thrashed Pakistan 6-1 on Saturday but there were no political messages sent this time. The Indian team took the international hockey federation (FIH) and hosts England by surprise by sporting black armbands in support of soldiers who died fighting terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir.

“Yes, I was aware of this,” said India’s hockey coach Roelant Oltmans.

The FIH was caught on a sticky wicket after its president Narinder Batra took to social media to post sensitive political messages on the unrest in Jammu & Kashmir. Batra was the previous chief of Hockey India.

READ | Hockey World League Semi-Final: India extend Pakistan’s dismal run

Pakistan officials slammed Batra for “not behaving like a FIH president” and said international hockey could face disintegration for lack of “fairness and transparency.” After being forced to delete his posts, Batra subsequently tendered an apology to the Pakistan Hockey Federation.

Oltmans was clearly at discomfort when he was asked about India’s nature of protest.

He offered a curt “no comments” when asked if wearing black armbands was an acceptable way to send political messages.

Oltman’s “no comments” was not totally unexpected but it also said a lot.

READ | After another heavy defeat, Pakistan envy India’s hockey structure

Foreign coaches in India haven fallen on the wrong side of Batra in recent years. Oltmans has been quite a survivor.