Putting an end to speculation that US passport holders Prakash Amritraj and Rajeev Ram may represent India in the forthcoming Davis Cup tie, the sports ministry has unequivocally stated that no player can represent India unless he holds passport of the country.
“We had conveyed this to the All India Tennis Association in our earlier communication. In fact, we have also sent a circular in 2009 along with our letter. People must read it carefully before reaching any conclusions. The Sports Ministry has not diluted its stand. It remains exactly what it was in 2009. Mr Prakash Amritraj can certainly play if he has an Indian passport,” sports secretary Pradeep K Deb said on Wednesday.
Asked what if the AITA went against the ministry’s directive, Deb said, “Why presume it will happen? We can stop funding. We can stop financing the player. We can de-recognise an association. There are so many things that can be done under our new sports code.”
However, he clarified that a player with a dual passport can represent India.
AITA CEO Hironmoy Chatterjee also admitted that the association has sought advice from the ministry over playing foreign nationals and “the reply is amply clear and will be followed up”.
Meanwhile, the AITA is pulling all strings to step up pressure on the eight rebellion players, led by Somdev Devvarman. They have been told that their funding would be stopped should they fail to intimate the AITA of their availability by January 10.
“The sports ministry releases funds for various events on AITA’s recommendation. If players are not willing to play for the country, then why should they get assistance from the government?” said Chatterjee.
Such a move will severely affect the likes of Yuki Bhambri, Vishnu Vardhan, Divij Sharan, Sanam Singh and Saketh Myneni.