Sports ministry not responsible for hockey fiasco: minister

March 10th, 2008 - 10:42 pm ICT by admin  

New Delhi, March 10 (IANS) Union Minister for Sports and Youth Affairs Mani Shanker Aiyar said here Monday he was deeply saddened that the Indian hockey team did not qualify for the Beijing Olympics, but the fault lies with the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and not the ministry. “As an Indian citizen, I am saddened that the hockey team did not make it to the Olympics for the first time since 1928. But don’t foster any blame on my ministry. Neither did we take credit for the Indian cricket team winning the world cup, nor should we be blamed for hockey,” Aiyar said.

The Indian hockey team failed to qualify for the forthcoming Olympics when it lost 2-0 to Great Britain in a qualifier match Sunday.

Aiyar, who also heads the panchayati raj ministry, met reporters to discuss his new comprehensive sports plan called Panchayat Yuva Krida aur Khel Abhiyan (PYKKA) for rural youth. As expected, the hockey fiasco overtook the discussion.

Clarifying that his ministry did not have any say in the functioning of IHF and IOA, Aiyar said: “Under the International Olympic Council charter, IOA is an autonomous body and interfering in their affairs would mean transgressing the rules,” Aiyar said. When asked about IHF, Aiyar spoke on the same lines.

Aiyar did not mince words to express his dismay. “I wanted to celebrate the launch of PYKKA for which the government has sanctioned Rs.1,500 crores (Rs.15 billion) in the budget and Indian hockey team qualifying for the Olympics together today but we lost,” he said.

“I am wearing black to mourn our failure to qualify,” he added.

Since Sunday’s debacle there has been an outcry to remove IHF president K.P.S. Gill, who has held the post since 1994.

In reply to a question on whether his ministry could remove the IHF president, Aiyar said: “Those who are members of the federation and have a vote there can decide. The government of India does not have a vote (in IHF).”

Praising the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) for supporting sports other than cricket, he said: “I would appeal to the corporate sector and other groups and people to help hockey.”

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