Courts stay HI election, FIH official holds out a veiled threat (Lead)

July 28th, 2010 - 10:56 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, July 28 (IANS) International Hockey Federation (FIH) vice president Antonio Von Ondarza Wednesday held out a veiled threat of sanctions if Hockey India (HI) does not hold its election by July 31, the deadline set by the world body.

Though Ondaza did not spell out the sanctions, it is clear that India’s participation in women’s hockey World Cup at Rosario, Argentina from Aug 30 can be in jeopardy after the Delhi and Bombay High Court stayed the election which was to be held Wednesday.

Ondarza, however, said “sanctioning the athletes” is the last thing the FIH wants.

The IHF functionary has significantly reminded all stake holders of hockey in the country that the FIH had derecognised the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) way back in 2000 and how could it be the recognised body here.

There was an air of uncertainty when HI members walked in for the general body meeting and as the chair was about to call the election it was served the Bombay High Court’s order staying the election for three weeks on a petition by the Mumbai Hockey Association (MHA).

By the evening, the Delhi High Court, which had asked the government Tuesday to issue a clarification that HI is a private body as IHF is the only recognised federation to run the sport in the country, stayed the elections following sports ministry’s failure to do so. The High Court had lifted the suspension on IHF.

The sports ministry told the court that it recognises both the HI and K.P.S Gill-led IHF. The court said it was a violation of the guideline that there can be only one recognised body for the sport and stayed the elections till further orders.

Ondarza, who is also the FIH’s observer for the election, was at his wits’ end explaining the situation arising out of the court orders.

“Hockey is not being played on the field but in the courts. I do not know where we are heading to. There seems no end to it.”

“July 31 is the deadline for HI to hold the election and after that HI will not be part of FIH statutes. But I cannot take a decision, I have to consult. We have our rules and regulations and we have to answer our stakeholders. We had given provisional acceptance to HI till July 31. The deadline ends in a couple of days, we do not know what is going to happen.

Asked whether India will be barred from participating in the women’s World Cup as FIH had warned HI, Ondarza said: “We are here for the good of the athletes. We do not want to impose sanctions, but we have to do something. All I can say is that the ball is in the court of India today. I ask everyone, the government, the courts, the lawyers and all the stakeholders to set the ball rolling. We do not want to take any drastic steps, have your elections immediately.”

“In the last two years we have gone from one deadline to another. The world cup was a success and we have plans for Indian hockey to get back to its glorious past.

“I have come here so many times. We have put all our efforts, but every time something happens in the court.”

“I am flabbergasted. We have de-recognised IHF way back in 2000 because of its failure to unify the men’s and women’s units so how can they be the recognised body,” said Ondarza.

“Indian Hockey Confederation (IHC) was formed but only on paper. It never functioned properly and there were other problems with it. There were so many communications from both sides. We are not here to look into all these things.”

“We told HI to hold the election before World Cup, but it was not done. We even thought of moving the World Cup, but it was not possible to make a last minute change. HI said it will complete the process by July 31 and we thought there was ample time and accepted it.”

Meanwhile, HI is planning to move the Supreme Court “expedetiously” in a couple of days.

“We are moving the Supreme Court within Friday against the Bombay High Court’s stay order. There are other court cases in almost every state. We will ask the Supreme Court to take up all the cases,” said HI counsel Hitesh Jain.

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