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Recognition issue: Hockey Punjab cries foul

Special Correspondent

NEW DELHI: The issue of Hockey India’s recognition to Hockey Punjab became murkier on Sunday when Sukhbir Singh Badal termed the situation a ‘politically motivated scam’.

At a press conference here, Mr. Badal, who is Punjab’s Deputy Chief Minister, accused the Indian Olympic Association and its President, Suresh Kalmadi, of plotting a conspiracy against his State by debarring it from participating in the Hockey India (HI) elections slated for January 29.

Humiliated

Former India captain Pargat Singh said it was nothing but humiliation. “We are not beggars. We don’t need crumbs. Look at Punjab’s history and its contributions towards the game in India. We are demanding what is democratically right as a State unit. Punjab has been a lifeline of Indian hockey for decades,” said Pargat, who is the Secretary General of Hockey Punjab.

“The IOA and HI are playing games with us. They just keep passing the buck without giving any answer. We have approached the Ministry of Sports and the FIH too and hope they would take necessary steps to help us. We don’t want to go to the court because we don’t want the game to suffer,” noted Mr. Badal.

“It is indeed baffling because Punjab, which is called the nursery of Indian hockey, is being denied affiliation for reasons not known.”

Apart from Punjab, the other States who have done well in hockey but denied affiliation by Hockey India are Mumbai, Delhi, Jharkhand, Kerala and Madhya Pradesh.

As per regulations

Mr. Badal pointed out that Hockey Punjab was formed in August after merging four units in compliance with the directions of the International Hockey Federation and IOA.

Mr. Badal slammed the politicisation of the issue. “Politics should not be allowed to spoil the future of hockey in our country. Politics has no place in sports and nobody should indulge in it. We are hosting the hockey World Cup and also the Commonwealth Games this year. What kind of message are we giving to the world, ” added the Punjab Olympic Association President S.S. Dhindsa.

‘All this talk about disputes and factionalism (in Hockey Punjab) is rubbish. We had four associations in the State and they have merged to form Hockey Punjab, as per IOA guidelines, and elected me unanimously as its President. The Presidents and Vice-Presidents of the earlier associations are office-bearers in Hockey Punjab.”

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