WSH stays unsanctioned, maintains FIH official

No space for the event on the calendar, says world body

The International Hockey Federation on Wednesday maintained its stand on World Series Hockey (WSH) and said it remains an “unsanctioned event.”

The Delhi High Court on Monday cleared the way for WSH, a joint initiative of derecognised Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) and Nimbus Sport, on the condition that the league’s schedule did not overlap with international events.

The FIH chief executive officer, Kelly Fairweather, however, said the high court ruling only reinforced their stand. “WSH remains an unsanctioned event. We have gone through the judgment and it only reinforces the stand of FIH. There has been no change in our stance. There cannot be two bodies for hockey and IHF is not recognised by FIH,” said Fairweather.

Fairweather said going by the court's order it was not possible for the league to run as the international calendar was cramped for a window.

“If you see the international calendar, it is packed with events for the next 7-8 months. Where is the space available? There are six Olympic qualifying tournaments lined up which means there is international hockey every week,” he said.

“If some one intends playing in a private league ahead of the Olympics, he is certainly not serious about the game."

The High Court's ruling had come as a welcome reprieve for WSH, which had to postpone its inaugural edition, scheduled to begin December 17, as it would have clashed with the Olympic qualifiers. It is slated to being on February 29, two days after the qualifiers ends.

The FIH had earlier said the players who have signed the WSH contract before March 31st would be allowed to play in the league.

Asked whether the players playing in WSH will be banned, Fairweather said: “We cannot ban someone even before they have played. The players will have to make their own decision. We will refer to the rules and act accordingly.”

Incidentally, some of the FIH master coaches like former India coach Jose Brasa and Roelant Oltmans have been signed by WSH but Fairweather chose to be non-commital. “We cannot stop anyone from joining any league,” he said.

Fairweather said they have the welfare of the players in mind and are working to come up with a league of their own in partnership with Hockey India (HI) sometime in 2013.

“We have to see that the league is well-defined, well-funded and well-planned. But we can only organise it at a suitable time, when all the top players are available," he said.

Earlier, Fairweather, who was here for the official launching of the qualifying events 'Hero FIH Road to London', promised to organise more international tournaments to give the sport a fillip in India. “In the next four years, we want to host at least one international tournament in India every year,” he said.

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