FIH hopeful of ending impasse before Olympic qualifiers

September 13th, 2011 - 11:29 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Sep 13 (IANS) India may have lost the chance of hosting the Champions Trophy, but the 2012 Olympic qualifiers could still be held here as the International Hockey Federation (FIH) is hopeful of a unified hockey body in the country before February.

After a round of meeting with Sports Minister Ajay Maken here Tuesday, FIH president Leonardo Negre and chief executive Kelly Fairweather were confident of being able to resolve the impasse over the power-sharing formula between Hockey India (HI) and the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF).

“We are happy with the first round of meeting,” Negre told IANS after meeting Maken.

Later, after a meeting with Indian Olympic Association (IOA) acting president Vijay Kumar Malhotra, Negre said: “India is important to us but FIH is committed towards having only one national federation in our member nations as per our constitution and IOC Charter.”

Fairweather said FIH respects the decision of India’s apex court, which prompted the two federations to agree to a power-sharing formula, but maintained that the world body wants a unified body for the sport in the country.

“FIH has made it clear that it wants a unified body that runs the sport in the country,” he said.

Asked if India can still host the Olympic qualifiers, Fairweather said: “We had a good meeting with the sports ministry officials and Hockey India. I am confident that we would find a resolution before February.”

The FIH has expressed its displeasure over the ’settlement’ reached between HI and IHF with the help of the sports ministry and withdrew the Champions Trophy, which will be held from Dec 3-11, allotted to India.

The FIH also took everybody by surprise as they announced Auckland as the replacement for Delhi, four hours before the meeting with Indian officials.

Maken expressed his displeasure to FIH saying that India should have been given a chance to present its case.

Fairweather, however, was surprised with the outcry in India over its decision to shift the Champions Trophy to Auckland.

“I am surprised with the huge outcry in the country. We have already announced it five days back that it was not possible for FIH to host the Champions Trophy since we are not happy with the ongoing problems with the governance of hockey in the country. We also made it clear that a host would be announced in a short while. We just waited for a while because the rugby World Cup had just started in New Zealand and on Tuesday they agreed to host the Champions Trophy,” the South African said.

Negre also said that it was impossible for India to get back Champions Trophy.

“It’s impossible for India to get back the hosting rights of Champions Trophy. New Zealand will host it and it is our final decision,” Negre said.

Maken said he was expecting the FIH to announce a host after the meeting.

“I knew that this year’s Champions Trophy was a closed chapter. But since it was Mr. Negre who offered India to host the tournament I was hopeful that they would consider the sensitivity of the issue and would announce a host only after today’s meeting. It was very surprising and I have made my displeasure clear to the FIH,” Maken said.

Maken also informed the FIH about the circumstances in which the sports ministry persuaded both HI and IHF to agree to a power-sharing formula.

“We told them that we have to go by our apex court and the law of the land cannot be ignored. I also told them that the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) has to be roped in the discussion. We will not take any decision without keeping IOA in the loop. I have asked director general of Sports Authority of India (SAI) and secretary and joint secretary of the ministry to take things forward and we will also inform the Supreme Court about the development,” he said.

“We have to find a solution agreeable to all. I also told FIH that hockey in India has the potential to surpass the popularity of the cricket. We have also decided to set up a National Institute of Sports at the National Stadium at a cost of Rs.10 crore,” said Maken.

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