Pay and play is becoming a norm in Indian sports, or so it seems. With the government shying away from giving financial aid to non-priority disciplines, sportspersons are shelling out money from their pockets to compete in international competitions.
In a shocking case, the 43-member Indian bench-press team had to dish out Rs 33,000 each to compete in the Asian Championship held at Chandigarh.
“We agree that the ministry gives no aid to the Indian Powerlifting Federation (IPF) for sending teams abroad or hosting international events. But how can the IPF justify charging Rs 33,000 from the players,” said a lifter who had competed in the Asian Championship.
“If the IPF was falling short of funds, they could have asked for a reasonable amount… our boarding, lodging and kitting costs no more than Rs 10,000,” the player added.
IPF secretary-general Subrata Dutta when contacted said: “We don’t get any financial support from the government for hosting events. So, we asked the state associations to chip in. We didn’t ask for money directly from the players. We wrote to the respective state association, whose players had been selected for the championship, to pay us Rs 33,000 per entry. It’s up to them how they managed the money.
“Moreover, if any potential medal-winner was finding it difficult to arrange the amount, the federation gave him a 50 per cent discount. A Punjab player was allowed to participate without paying a paisa,” added Dutta.
Hindustan Times has learnt that some of top lifters opted out of the championship because of the huge amount.
“We agree that some of the top players didn’t compete, but they had other reasons; money was not the issue,” said Dutta.
Another player alleged that the IPF had hosted the championship from the money collected from the players. “The federation bore half the cost of boarding and lodging of foreign teams. When our players go abroad, they don’t get such hospitality. Then why provide benefits to foreign teams?” he questioned.
Apart from India, four teams — Japan, Kazakhstan, Iran and the Philippines — competed in the championship. In total there were 80 foreign participants.