Pakistan considering hockey games against India on neutral soil

January 9th, 2009 - 9:17 pm ICT by IANS  

Karachi, Jan 9 (IANS) Pakistan’s hockey officials are considering inviting India for a Test series on an offshore venue later this year.Qasim Zia, the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) president, told IANS Friday that the PHF has discussed the idea of playing matches on neutral venues with India and other major hockey-playing nations in a bid to revive Pakistan hockey.

“Our options are open,” said Zia, a former hockey Olympian who is currently a central leader of the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP). “We want to revive Pakistan hockey and would not mind if the matches are arranged on neutral soil against top hockey teams, including India.”

Pakistan and India have suspended sporting ties because of strained relations between the two governments over November’s terror attacks in Mumbai that left over 170 people killed.

Pakistan pulled out its team from a four-nation hockey tournament hosted by India from Jan 31 to Feb 9 in Chandigarh after India blocked its cricket team’s tour of Pakistan. Pakistan also decided against sending its squash team for the Asian Junior Squash Championships to be played in Chennai later this month.

But Zia said those decisions were taken by the government and not the sport authorities.

“We have no problems playing with India on some neutral venue,” he said adding that hockey can be revived in the region with more matches between the two counties - once regarded as the powerhouses of the game at the world level.

Zia said the PHF has various neutral venues like Dubai in mind. Pakistan has not hosted a major hockey team since the 2004 Champions Trophy in Lahore as leading sides have stayed away from the country because of security apprehensions.

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