AITA: A bumbling federation that’s far from transparent
Players have no respect for it, and why would they when one protest from an image-conscious athlete is enough to reduce the secretary’s word to dirt, and it’s open season for the press as just about everybody is busy planting stories against the other.tennis Updated: Sep 17, 2016 09:55 IST
Here are the facts of the matter: the All India Tennis Association’s secretary Hironmoy Chatterjee went on record to news agency PTI that Sania Mirza’s mother Naseema Mirza called the man who runs Indian tennis, Anil Khanna, and said that with Venus Williams implicated in a dope controversy, the AITA needs to build a campaign to get an Olympic mixed doubles medal for India. Mirza in the company of Rohan Bopanna had lost to Williams and Rajeev Ram at Rio in the semifinals.
That’s what the secretary of the national tennis body said to a reporter on record. There is an actual tape recording. The next morning the same official sent out a release saying that there had been no communication from the Mirzas.
‘Nothing in writing’
When confronted, he went on to add that there had been no written communication. He also clarified that the call was from Sania’s father Imran and not her mother! One can’t help but laugh at just what’s going on in this comic federation. Now, one can’t be certain whether Chatterjee misled the press at one time and then had a change of heart to clarify things only to have another change of heart to further clarify later! But it’s obvious that things are not black and white here.
Repeatedly, the Indian tennis federation has faced major discipline issues. Players have no respect for it, and why would they when one protest from an image-conscious athlete is enough to reduce the secretary’s word to dirt, and it’s open season for the press as just about everybody is busy planting stories against the other.
Meanwhile, it’s not supposed to have a president right now as the sports ministry has asked Khanna to quit, but he continues to call the shots and has now crowned himself ‘life president’.
The Indian Davis Cup team has seen the players muscle their way to appointing a colourful captain, Anand Amritraj, of their choice.
Discipline is lax, girlfriends are no longer an issue and even young players have been known to down a drink. A player is with a girlfriend in the locker room while his team mates are out on court during a tie and it’s not considered a serious matter. A senior team functionary carries a bottle of whiskey in his bag in the dressing room and still there is no issue.
At the press conference to announce the team for the Rio Olympics the same federation blatantly misled the press by stating that there is no chance for the combination of Mirza and Leander Paes to make it to the mixed doubles draw in Rio.
Your correspondent has the International Tennis Federation communications official on site, Nick Imison, on record stating that the two would have got the Asian exempt and hence been eligible to be in the main draw.
Facts be dammed!
This is a federation where the office bearers are so keen to hold on to their posts that the main agenda is to ensure that any potential controversy is nipped in the bud, the truth isn’t of primary importance. Statements are manufactured for convenience, facts be damned.
Khanna ran a close race and almost got the post of the president of the International Tennis Federation. Given the mess his own body is back home one wonders as to whether it wouldn’t be prudent to focus his energies on things he can control instead of focusing on the world.