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Delhi canít host Champions Trophy: FIH
MS Unnikrishnan/TNS

New Delhi, September 6
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) has shifted the Champions Trophy out of Delhi in protest against the working merger of the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) with Hockey India, forged at the behest of the Sports Ministry. As a consequence, the FIH has also barred India's participation in the Champions Trophy.

Indian Olympic Association (IOA) acting president Prof Vijay Kumar Malhotra promptly held Sports Minister Ajay Maken responsible for the development.

In an e-mail communication to Maken, FIH president Leandro Negro informed that the FIH Executive Board made the decision to change the venue for the men's Champions Trophy in December, "which was scheduled to be held in Delhi".

"As a result of no longer being the host of that tournament, Hockey India is no longer entitled to enter the team in it," stated Negre. But the FIH, as a major "concession", has allowed HI to field the Indian team at that time in the Champions Challenge in South Africa, for which India have qualified.

Negre made this announcement in reply to the letter sent by the Ministry to the FIH on August 25, stating the reasons behind the working merger thrashed out between IHF and HI. Malhotra reacted sharply, stating that Maken was responsible for "this mess". "I don't know what his real agenda is, but he has landed the country in another unnecessary controversy. Thank God, the so-called Sports Development Bill has got scuttled. Otherwise, India would have faced problem from the IOC and the country's participation in the 2012 London Olympics and all other international competitions, including the Asian Games and the Commonwealth Games, would have been in jeopardy", Malhotra said.

The FIH's contention against the "joint board" for the administration of Indian hockey was on the basis that it recognised only one national body for the running of the game. Though the Indian Government was "fully committed to the (FIH) principle that there be only one recognised national sports federation for one sport", the FIH felt that the "settlement minutes" of the IHF-HI merger "violates that principle and so breaches not only the FIH Statutes, but also the Olympic Charter".

The FIH did not accept the Ministry's stand that "the settlement minutes are not intended to provide a permanent long-term structural framework". "But you offer no explanation as to how an acceptable solution, compliant with the FIH Statutes and the Olympic Charter, is supposed to emerge in the meantime, and we certainly see no basis to hope for such an outcome," Negre noted.

The FIH had allotted the Champions Trophy and the Olympic qualifiers, slated to be held in February next year, to HI as it recognised only Hockey India. But a Delhi High Court ruling had restored the status of IHF as the custodians of the game and the Government had to accept this fact.

But the FIH felt that "Hockey India, if it were to join such a joint body, as appears to be envisaged, would no longer satisfy the criteria for membership of the FIH, and so would stand to lose the recognition, which it at present enjoys, as the national federation controlling hockey in India".

FIH said in the present scenario, Hockey India "no longer have any right to enter teams, men or women, representing India in FIH-sanctioned competitions, and so India would not be represented in these competitions".

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