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Hockey team may pull out of CWG

Sunday, 23 March 2014 - 10:05am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

Organisers deny accreditation to Harbir Singh Sandhu, a Sardar * Hockey India's Narinder Batra slams IOA bosses, threatens not to send team to Glasgow.

Not for the first time, Hockey India (HI) is at loggerheads with the Indian Olympic Association (IOA). And this time, the outcome could be a shameful one.

HI secretary general Narinder Batra has threatened to withdraw the men's hockey team from the 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, Scotland, after Harbir Singh Sandhu, who is among the 28 probables shortlisted for the event, was refused accreditation by the organisers without rhyme or reason.

What has left Batra fuming is that the newly-elected IOA president, N Ramachandran, and secretary general Rajiv Mehta were intimated on February 5, but the duo has done precious little, according to Batra.

"They only care about getting accreditation for their own officials. They are not bothered about the players," Batra told dna on Saturday. "They are behaving like postmen, just receiving letters, sitting on it and not doing anything about it."

The event's associations relations manager, Robert Vergouw, had written a letter to the IOA, informing them about the refusal to give Harbir accreditation "due to a UK Home Office Background Check result".

Now, Batra has taken it upon himself to protest the decision, and if he gets the required backing in HI's executive committee meeting on March 29, India may not field its team in the mega event in July.

"You cannot refuse an athlete accreditation for such events. You need to prove that he is a terrorist or a criminal. Just on the basis of a name, and without any proper check of his background, you cannot reach a conclusion. I feel insulted. I know the IOA will not do anything about this, but I will ensure the protest reaches a logical conclusion. And if my executive committee members support my stand, we will withdraw our team from the event," Batra added.

Harbir, 24, is a full-back from Punjab. He has been part of the Indian team on many of its recent international tours but is unlikely to make it to the final squad travelling to Glasgow.

Batra, in his letter to Ramachandran and Mehta, wrote that despite Harbir's place not being guaranteed in the final 16, the IOA should not take it lying down.

"One of our shortlisted athletes for CWG in Glasgow has been denied accreditation. No reason is being given. He is a young budding athlete and our prospect for 2016 Olympics... I feel the IOA needs to push and take this matter forcefully with CWG otherwise it (is) my personal opinion that IOA as a matter of protest should withdraw the men's hockey team from CWG," Batra wrote in the letter.

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