The suspense over Indian hockey team’s participation in the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament ended with the sports ministry giving a special permission to Hockey India (HI).
The issue was resolved on Tuesday evening with a word of caution from the sports ministry to HI to bring in “more discipline” in its financial matters.
Earlier in the day, HI said that India had been forced to withdraw from the March 9-17 tournament. The news spread like fire, causing much dismay and disappointment among the hockey circles.
“HI jumped to conclusions too early,” said sports secretary Pradeep K Deb. “I was told by DG Sports Authority of India that HI has already spent much more than what was allocated to them by the government. However, I asked the DG SAI to make funds available for this tournament as this is a very important tournament for our country.”
But a senior HI official put the blame on SAI and linked this entire episode to the ugly scenes witnessed last week between the security staff at Major Dhyan Chand Stadium, which is under SAI, and the HI officials. “The security personnel misbehaved with our officials under the influence of alcohol. When we complained about this to senior SAI officials, no action was taken and the blame was put on our officials,” the official said.
Whatever be the truth, DNA has learnt that HI was allocated Rs5.94 crore for its yearly budget. But it has already exceeded the budget by spending around Rs11.27 crore.
“My only advice to HI is to be a little more disciplined in money matters in the future. And we’ve already conveyed this in writing,” said Deb.
SAI will only be paying the airfares for the team while the remaining expenditure will be borne by HI. A senior HI official, however, termed this incident as unfortunate and demoralising for the players. “It was SAI who gave us permission to go ahead with the camp for this tournament in Delhi earlier. And, by saying no at the last moment could demoralise the team. How can our players do well without participating in tourneys abroad?” he said.