“We are not going back to the camp anymore unless our demands are met,” Indian captain Rajpal Singh told PTI from Pune.
Hockey India reacted sharply to players’ decision with treasurer Narinder Batra accusing them of blackmailing the Federation and holding the nation to ransom. “It’s really shocking. They agreed to our offer yesterday and now they are back on strike. They can’t hold a nation to ransom,” he said.
Asked why they decided to go on strike again after six players, including the Indian captain himself, met the HI officials last night and agreed to rejoin the camp, Rajpal said other players felt the amount offered by HI was peanuts.
“It was a marathon meeting that went on and on. At one time, we wanted to end it somehow and return. We returned and conveyed to our team members what HI offered us. But they felt it was too insignificant an amount and there was no question of ending the strike,” Rajpal said, adding HI had offered Rs 25,000 for each player.
“We have conveyed our decision to the coaching staff and by now, they must have relayed it to HI. HI has to come up with a better offer if they want us back in the camp,” he said.
Batra said HI officials will travel to Pune on Tuesday to sort out the issue.
“I cannot tell you who but HI officials would reach Pune tomorrow to talk to the players. We have as many as six meetings lined up in Delhi on tomorrow, including meetings with International Hockey Federation (FIH) vice president Antonio von Ondarza and the Sports Ministry but somebody will go to Pune tomorrow,” Batra said.
Rajpal, meanwhile, assured that the players would keep themselves mentally and physically fit for the World Cup which begins next month in the capital. “We ask people not to worry about our fitness — physical or mental. We would rejoin the camp as soon as our demands are met,” Rajpal said.
Senior forward Prabhjot Singh also felt the money offered by HI was too meagre.
“We put our proposals in front of Hockey India and they responded with their proposals. We discussed it among ourselves and we think what they have offered us is very little.