Hockey crisis resolved, players to resume practice

Hockey crisis resolved, players to resume practice


Indian hockey players during a press conference on Tuesday. PTIKalmadi, who flew in here this morning to hold negotiations with the protesting players, said that a full settlement has been reached and "everybody is happy about it".

"Hockey has been our national game. It can never be a national shame. It will be our national pride. The players all feel that they want to bring up Indian hockey. I assured them of full support," Kalmadi told a press conference after his meeting with the players.

Kalmadi, who is also Chairman of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, said that the Rs one crore given by sponsors Sahara India will be disbursed among the players within a week and all other issues would be settled in due course of time.

The settlement of the crisis, which has dogged Indian hockey for the last five days, paves the way for the players to rejoin the World Cup preparatory camp from tomorrow.

Kalmadi also said that a Players' Welfare Development Fund will be created and former Indian captain Dhanraj Pillay who also played a key role in resolving the crisis has been put in charge.

Kalmadi also made it clear that no player will be targeted in future for boycotting the camp. "No player will be targeted. They have done it within the decorum. I will also tell the next HI president to agree to the players' demand."

He said that various state governments like Punjab, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Uttar Pradesh have promised financial support to the players, while some other corporate houses have also assured monetary help.

"In view of all this we have also decided to form another committee to look into the finances. This committee will be chaired by Hockey India president and will also include representatives from the IOA and players like Zafar Iqbal, Ajit Pal Singh, MP Ganesh and Pillay.

Kalmadi also said that a number of Bollywood personalities such as Shahrukh Khan, Amitabh Bachchan, Salma Agha have expressed concern about the developments.

"I would request them to hold shows and concerts so that more funds can be generated for the players. I would also request Subhash Ghai to help. This money will not only help the current players but also the old hockey players who are in dire need," Kalmadi said.

Kalmadi said the players have given him a list of their demands and they wanted a commitment on the graded payment system and solutions to sum up their demands before the World Cup.

"I have given them assurances, they are satisfied," he added.
The players were also present at the press conference and when asked whether the any written assurance was given to them, senior player Deepak Thakur said, "Mr Kalmadi is present here as the IOA president and we have no reason to disbelieve him.

"Within one week our dues will be given. Mr Kalmadi has assured us that the new HI body will be looking into our demands. All we wanted is a secured future. We don't want to remain insecure," Thakur said.

When Kalmadi was asked whether he was willing to give a written undertaking, he shot back, "There is no question of a written assurance. I am here as the IOA president and it is my responsibility to ensure that the players get their dues."

"We have no doubt on the integrity of the players. We have also no doubt of the integrity of Mattoo (HI president). He is a highly efficient administrator. We now want to move on," he said.

That the crisis would be resolved today had become quite apparent in the morning itself, when team sponsor Sahara India decided to release Rs one crore immediately to be distributed only among the striking players.

"In the genuine interest of the national hockey players, Sahara India Pariwar has decided to pay immediately Rs one Crore in suspense account to Hockey India, only for distribution to the players so that they can peacefully and happily practice and play for the country," Sahara said in a statement. 

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