Hockey scandal is tip of iceberg, feel Olympians

April 22nd, 2008 - 4:25 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, April 22 (IANS) Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) secretary-general Kandaswamy Jothikumaran’s 15-year-old tenure has ended after a TV channel showed clips showing him taking bribe for manipulating team selection, but Olympians feel that he is just the proverbial “tip of the iceberg”. A day after the Aaj Tak channel telecast its sting operation late Monday, Olympians were fuming and demanded IHF president K.P.S. Gill’s ouster as well to save the game from further ignominy.

Hockey, India’s national sport, has already been down in doldrums after the men’s team failed to qualify for the Olympics for the first time in 80 years.

“Till 1960, Indian hockey was in good hands and we dominated the world, but that year when India lost to Pakistan in the Rome Olympics, the reigns of Indian hockey went to the police officers of Punjab. In a way Punjab is the culprit for the present fate of Indian hockey,” former selector Aslam Sher Khan told IANS Tuesday.

“The worst time in the history of Indian hockey was when Gill became the (IHF) president in 1994. He raped the national sport. Jothikumaran is just the tip of the iceberg,” he added.

The TV channel showed Jothikumaran accepting money from undercover reporters to include an unnamed player in the national team for the Sultan Azlan Shah tournament in Malaysia next month.

The IHF secretary-general was shown receiving Rs.200,000 in cash and then asking for Rs.300,000 more to be given to his “man” in Delhi in return of the favour.

Former captains Pargat Singh and Dhanraj Pillay called for criminal proceedings and a full investigation against the tainted IHF general secretary.

“I can’t imagine anything more shameful. The name of Indian hockey has been rubbed in the dust. A CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) inquiry should be conducted and he should be arrested immediately,” said Singh.

“People who taint the sport in this way should be given maximum punishment. All my life I have lived for hockey, so if anything disgraceful happens to the sport, it is really painful.”

Pillay looks at the brighter side of the affair. “This gives the government a chance to clean the mess in our hockey. It should open the eyes of those at the top.”

Ashok Kumar, son of legendry Dhyanchand, says the sports ministry should wake up and intervene in the affairs of IHF. Former national coach Rajinder Singh Junior also demanded an overall revamp of the federation.

“We wait for such incidents to happen to react. The IHF should immediately be dissolved and government should intervene directly,” said Kumar, a member of 1972 and 1976 Olympic team.

“If the government is helpless, then what is the point in having a sports ministry?” he asked.

Rajinder Singh added: “These things should not happen. The entire federation is responsible for the incident. There should be an overall revamping of the federation and new people and those connected with the game should be at the helm of affairs.”

However, there was no reaction from the IHF, with its president Gill saying that he would comment later.

“I will not say anything at this moment. I will call a press conference in two-three days,” Gill said.

Significantly, the International Hockey Federation (FIH) has provisionally allotted the 2010 World Cup to Delhi. It remains to be seen if the fate of the World Cup would be affected by the sting operation as Jothikumaran was in charge of organising the tournament.

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