FIH not to interfere in India-Pakistan hockey matters

New Delhi, Sep 17 (IANS) The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has said it does not intend to interfere in the tiff between the Indian and Pakistani federations vis-a-vis their bilateral ties.

Pakistani players have once again gone amiss in the Hockey India League (HIL) players’ auction which took place at a five-star hotel here on Thursday.

On Monday, Hockey India (HI) president Narinder Batra said that Pakistani players will not feature in the lucrative tournament if there is no official apology from the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) over the conduct of some of its players during the 2014 Champions Trophy played in Bhubaneshwar.

“We don’t intend to sit between them. What we will be doing is meeting with the PHF, its new leadership and hopefully they will have a new approach. They will be more open to giving strong links,” FIH chief executive officer (CEO) Kelly Fairweather said here on Thursday.

Two Pakistani players — Muhammad Tousiq and Ali Amjad — were handed a one-match ban while Shafqat Rasool was reprimanded by the FIH for making obscene gestures after their team’s 4-3 win over hosts India in the Champions Trophy semi-final in December 2014.

Following the final hooter, excited Pakistani players took off their jerseys and made rude gestures towards the Indian fans and the media at the packed 7,000-capacity Kalinga Stadium.

Though then Pakistan chief coach Shahnaz Sheikh apologised for the incident, according to Batra, it was not enough.

“That incident as far as FIH is concerned, is in the past. We took what we believe was the appropriate action. We are not going to comment any further because, as I said, it is a discussion between the two federations,” added the CEO.

Fairweather said the FIH’s focus is to bring back Pakistan hockey, stuck in the doldrums at present, to its past glory. The once hockey powerhouse missed out on the 2014 World Cup and have also failed to qualify for the 2016 Rio Olympics.

“Our part is to make sure that Pakistan gets back into international hockey as a force. It’s really not good that we don’t have a country like that not playing in the World Cup and not playing in the Olympics. That is the real worry for me,” concluded Fairweather.

India also failed to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics for the first time in history.

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