'Form a single body or lose Oly qualifiers'

FIH confirms New Zealand as new Champions Trophy hosts

'Form a single body or lose Oly qualifiers'

India lost the hosting rights of the Champions Trophy, which was initially alloted to the country, to New Zealand on Tuesday after failing to resolve the prolong power struggle between Hockey India (HI) and Indian Hockey Federation (IHF).

“It’s impossible for India to get back the hosting rights of the Champions Trophy. New Zealand will host it and it is our final decision,” FIH President Leandro Negre said. “India is important to us but FIH is committed towards having only one national federation in our member nations as per our constituion and IOC charter,” he added.

But FIH chief executive officer Kelly Fairweather seemed optimistic about India hosting the London Olympic qualifiers next February but warned that it could also face Champions Trophy’s fate if the two warring factions -- HI and IHF -- fail to break their impasse.

“Today we had a series of meeting with Sports Minister (Ajay Maken), ministry officials, Hockey India among others. All the meetings were positive but we made it clear that what FIH wants is a single body for hockey in the country,” Fairweather told PTI here.
Asked about the Olympic qualifiers, he said: “It has still some time and we hope to find out a resolution before that.”

Fairweather said discussions about alloting the Champions Trophy back to India was never on the agenda of Tuesday’s meetings. “For us it was a surprise to see that people were still hopeful of getting backing the Champions Trophy because we have already made it clear earlier this month that the tournament has been shifted out of India and we will name a replacement venue in a week’s time,” he said.

The FIH, in a statement earlier in the day, confirmed New Zeland as the hosts for the Decemver 3-11 tournament. “New Zealand, ranked number seven in the world, will replace India (No 9) in the Champions Trophy. India was originally allotted a place in the Champions Trophy as the host, but has now been extended an invitation to play as the top-seeded team at the Champions Challenge in November in South Africa,” the statement said.

The eight nations Champions Challenge will be held in South Africa from  November 26-December 3 where the winning team qualifies for the Champions Trophy. Union Sports Minister Ajay Maken said that he was miffed with the FIH for announcing the alternate venue just hours before Tuesday’s meeting.

“The Champions Trophy has already been alloted to New Zealand and it is now a closed chapter. But I asked Negre why only four hours before the meeting they announced the name of the alternate venue.”

Maken was also hopeful of a solution to the problem before the Olympic qualifiers. “I told all my officials to talk to IOA and all other parties involved and find out a solution which is acceptable to all,” Maken said.

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