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FIH boss Narinder Batra says sorry to Pakistan Hockey Federation

India’s black armband protest during the Hockey World League semifinal match against Pakistan and the FIH president Narinder Batra’s social media comments sparked a lot of controversy.

other sports Updated: Jun 23, 2017 14:39 IST
Soumitra Bose
Soumitra Bose
Hindustan Times, London
Hockey World League semifinal,Narinder Batra,India vs Pakistan
International hockey federation (FIH) president Narinder Batra has apologised to the Pakistan Hockey Federation.(Getty Images)

International hockey federation president Narinder Batra has apologised to Pakistan for India’s black armband protest during the Hockey World League semifinal match against their traditional rivals on June 18.

(Read | Hockey World League: FIH, Pakistan not amused by India’s black armband protest)

Indian players wore black armbands to show their respect to soldiers killed fighting terrorists in Jammu & Kashmir. This sensitive show of “political message” directed at Pakistan caught FIH and tournament organisers England completely by surprise.

(Read | Hockey World League semifinal: India lose to Malaysia, to play Pakistan again)

What made matters worse was Batra taking to social media to vent his angst against Pakistan, a country that has been repeatedly blamed by the government of India for sponsoring terrorism.

Indian players wore a black armband during their Hockey World League Semi-Final match against Pakistan in London on Sunday. (PTI)

In a letter to the Pakistan Hockey Federation president on Thursday, Batra said: “I would like to offer my sincere regrets to PHF and all concerned for using my social media page to make inappropriate comments.”

(Read | Hockey World League semifinal: Argentina edge out Pakistan, enter last four)

The FIH was not amused at Batra’s outburst. On Wednesday, it forced the former Hockey India chief to delete sensitive tweets that threatened to bring relationship between Indian and Pakistan players and officials to a boil.

PHF secretary general Shahbaz Ahmed told HT that Batra forgot his role as FIH chief and it was unbecoming of a man who should be keeping politics aside from hockey.

(Read | Cricketers new role models for hapless Pakistan hockey team)

“My comments were made on the spur of the moment and were an emotional outburst,” wrote Batra. He goes onto clarify that FIH had nothing to with this.

“This will be a lesson for me as I understand I have hurt the feelings of many people as well as placed the FIH in a difficult position...I can reassure PHF that such thing will not happen in the future,” said Batra, who was elected international hockey federation boss in November 2016.

Just like cricket, India and Pakistan do not have bilateral sporting relations apart from multi-nation international events. India will host the 2018 World Cup in Bhubaneswar and Pakistan still retain a mathematical chance to qualify.

First Published: Jun 22, 2017 23:44 IST