Ritu Rani, who was replaced by Sushila Chanu as the captain of the women's hockey team and subsequently dropped from the Olympic squad, has blamed Hockey India of gender bias. Ritu insisted that the difference in the way the HI treated Sardar Singh shows how they feel about women players.
"As much as I love the sport, I don't know if I have it in me to pick up the stick again. The Olympic dream was all that I had. Now I don't know if I'll play again," Ritu Rani told ToI in an exclusive interview.
Life has been hard for Ritu Rani for the past few weeks. The 24-year-old, who was one of the stars of the Indian women's hockey squad which qualified for the Olympics after eons, was not only stripped of her captaincy, but was also removed from the squad for Rio. While reports suggest that the reason behind this decision was Ritu's poor attitude and performances, Ritu has argued otherwise.
Ritu also pointed out that although Sardar Singh is also facing issues off the field, he has received better support from the federation.
"The difference in the way Sardar and I have been treated is an indication that they feel differently about women players. The charges made against Sardar are serious, but Hockey India has protected him. Although they stripped him of captaincy, they recognized the value he brings to the team and retained him. They threw allegations of immaturity, indiscipline and attitude problem at me. One senior player was protected, while the other is humiliated,"Ritu added.
The Hockey India president Narinder Batra has, however, refuted claims of any bias. He said, "There are five to six changes in the men's team that has gone to Rio from the one which helped us qualify at the Asian Games in 2014. It is unfair to talk about bias. It is about how you perform on the day. If you have been playing well for 10 years, but not playing well when you are required, then coaches have to take a call," reported ToI.