The International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Sunday handed a one-game ban to two Pakistan players and reprimanded another for their obscene behaviour after winning the Champions Trophy semi-final against India.
The ban means that the two suspended players - Muhammad Tousiq and Ali Amjad - will not be able to take any part in the final against Germany later in the day, while the third player - Shafqat Rasool - was let off with a warning.
A statement from the FIH said evidence of the breach was found through photos on social media which showed the Pakistani players making rude gestures towards the crowd and the media immediately after winning the match on Saturday night.
The suspensions came hours after Hockey India (HI) took strong exception to FIH's "weak" censure to Pakistani players for their behaviour and even threatened to not host any event sanctioned by the world body until strong punishment is handed out to the offenders.
Initially, no action had been taken by the FIH after their coach Shahnaz Sheikh offered an apology.
"It was a shameless and condemnable incident but the FIH took a very weak and feeble decision. It is not acceptable to us. We have made it clear to FIH that such sort of behaviour from sportspersons is not acceptable to Indians," HI president Narinder Batra had told PTI from New Delhi.
"So we have decided not to host any FIH tournaments in India after the Women's World League Round 3 scheduled in March, which includes the 2018 Men's World Cup, if they don't take any strong action against Pakistan," he said.
Soon after their 4-3 win, Pakistani players went into a frenzy and started celebrating their victory in a wild fashion. They removed their shirts, used foul language and made obscene gestures towards the crowd and media, prompting their coach Shahnaz to come into action and take away his players.
Tournament director Wiert Doyer, who was asked to carry out an inquiry into the matter, then spoke to the Pakistani camp and said FIH has accepted their apology. But Batra said a mere apology was not enough.
"If FIH rules and regulations permit such uncivilised behaviour then they should hold their tournaments in any other country not India because Indian culture and values don't permit such acts," the HI chief said.
A Pakistan hockey player gestures to spectators as he and his teammates celebrate their victory over India during the Hockey Champions Trophy 2014 semi-final. Source: Twitter
Pakistan hockey player Shakeep Butt Ammad gestures to spectators to keep quiet as he and teammates celebrate their victory over India during their Hockey Champions Trophy 2014 semi-final. AFP PHOTO
Pakistan hockey captain Imran Muhammad (L) and teammates take their jerseys off as they celebrate their victory over India with teammates during their Hockey Champions Trophy 2014 semi-final match. AFP PHOTO
India and Pakistan were scheduled to resume their bilateral hockey series at a neutral venue in Dhaka soon, but Batra said India will not play any bilateral series with Pakistan after this incident.
"We have decided not to play any bilateral or trilateral series against Pakistan until and unless the Pakistan Hockey Federation gives an unconditional apology for this incident in writing," he said.
The FIH also has to share the blame for the fiasco as they conducted a hurried investigation into the incident and came out with their views within hours.
"The celebration of the Pakistani team contained some behaviour that warranted further investigation by me as tournament director. As a result, I have spoken to the head coach of the Pakistan team, Mr Shahnaz Sheikh, and told him that the behaviour of Pakistan players went beyond what is acceptable to standards of the FIH," tournament director Doyer, who was in charge of the investigation, said in a statement on Saturday night.
"The behaviour in question concerned many members of the Pakistan team. It is difficult to find any particular miscreant, and it is possible that the behaviour of the players may have been a reaction. Shahnaz Sheikh has apologised and assured me that this behaviour will not occur again. Given these matters, I've decided that no further action is warranted," he added.