As ban on Hockey India looms, an FIH committee tol visit India next month
On August 15, a three-member FIH team headed by recently appointed acting president Seif Ahmed is due to arrive in India for an emergency meeting to review the status of the approval of a new Constitution, which is essential to save the World Cup that India is slated to host in 2023.
The International Hockey Federation (FIH) delegation will include the CEO of the FIH, Thierry Weil, and Tayyab Ikram, who is also CEO of the Asian Hockey Federation.
On Wednesday, the FIH requested a "clear schedule" from the Committee of Administrators (CoA), which was constituted by the court, regarding the acceptance of the modified Constitution and the holding of new Hockey India elections. Hockey India stands the risk of losing the opportunity to host the World Cup, which is slated to take place from January 13 to 29 if a constitution that complies with the Sports Code is not adopted as soon as possible.
The CoA, which is in charge of the sport in the nation following the Delhi High Court's suspension of Hockey India's Executive Board for breaking the National Sports Code, has yet to confirm the visit's potential date, according to FIH CEO Weil.
"We are planning to visit India on August 15 for 2 to 3 days. We will do whatever is required to solve the matter but we are still awaiting a response from the CoA," Weil said from Lausanne in an interaction. "It would be a three-member delegation led by acting president Seif Ahmed. We are ready to meet anyone and extend all possible help to sort out the issues."
In this regard, FIH has three times written to CoA but has not yet received a response. Weil stated that although the FIH is still confident that Bhubaneswar and Rourkela would host the World Cup next month, a potential suspension on Hockey India remains a possibility if things don't work out.
"Definitely, there will be penalties coming in on Hockey India for non-delivery of commitments and one of those will be a ban from international hockey. They have signed an agreement for staging the World Cup and they are obliged to deliver on this. " But we are not thinking on those lines yet, as it will be the athletes who will be the biggest sufferer of any penalty. Plus the hockey-loving Indian fans will be deprived of world-class action. We don't want this," he said.
The FIH has not yet implemented a "Plan B" for hosting the World Cup and is hoping that such an issue never materializes.
"We have not started to work on this (alternate venue) because we want the World Cup to be hosted in India. It would be a huge disappointment for the fans," Weil said. "If things don't work out during our visit and the risk continues, we will have to think of Plan B. It would be a shame if the World Cup doesn't happen in India."
Weil reaffirmed his worries about the three-member CoA's inattentive behavior despite the international body's repeated warnings about the need for the early drafting and acceptance of the HI Constitution as well as new elections in order to be eligible to host the World Cup.
"That is a big concern for us (CoA not responding). When the High Court passed the order in May we straightaway sent an email, stating that we completely abide by the Hon'ble Court's decision and would do everything possible from our side to help the CoA," he said.
"The court gave 20 weeks to the CoA but for us it was too long and we have expressed our views. We need to have a new Hockey India board in place quickly because it is them who has signed the agreement with us."
"Despite repeated follow-ups with the CoA, we have not received any answer. We have not seen the draft of the Constitution. The new Constitution has to be approved by the FIH as per its statutes. We just want the CoA to speed up things, 20 weeks is not acceptable to us," Weil added.
In response to a plea submitted by former India player Aslam Sher Khan, who had contested Narinder Batra's Life Membership in Hockey India, the Delhi High Court suspended Hockey India's Executive Board and put it under a CoA. Since Batra ran for and won the IOA election on the basis of his HI membership, the court dissolved the Life Membership, and he ceased to be IOA President. His resignation as FIH President was most recent.