HI to move SC against stay order; FIH threatens sanction

HI to move SC against stay order; FIH threatens sanction

On a day of rapid developments, the Bombay High Court first stayed HI elections, which was scheduled to be held here today, for three weeks on a petition filed by the Mumbai Hockey Association.

If that was not enough, in the afternoon the Delhi High Court also stayed the poll process following the government's failure to clarify the legal position regarding HI and the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), which forced the HI to postpone its elections.
With the HI likely to miss FIH's July 31 deadline for the elections, its lawyer Hitesh Jain said they were left with no other option but to move the Supreme Court to sort out the court cases in various states.

"We are moving the Supreme Court within two days time against the Bombay High Court's stay order. There are court cases in almost every state, so we will ask the Honourable Supreme Court to take all the cases and solve them at the earliest in the best interest of our national game," Jain said.

As expected, the election postponement did not go down well with FIH, which warned India of dire consequences after the national body failed to conduct its polls.FIH vice-president Antonio von Ondarza, who was also the international body's observer for HI polls, said they cannot afford to give any further provisional acceptance to HI and it was time to act or face sanction.

"This time I expected to have a drink with my newly elected HI office bearers rather than facing this situation. We are deeply hurt because we have put all our effort," a disappointed Ondarza told reporters.

"At this point of time I can't say what will happen because I need to consult my other board members. But HI is still not in compliance with our guideliness. We had given provisional acceptance to HI but come July 31, these provisions won't exist.
"It is now the duty of all the parties concerned in India, including the government to set the ball rolling. We don't want to take any drastic steps but please don't force us to do it," he said.

Ondarza said FIH is no mood to harm the players' interest by imposing sanction but if elections were not held within a few days time, it will be left with no other option, which means India will be barred from participating in the women's World Cup in Argentina, starting next month.

"We administrators are there for the good of the game and not for our own benefits. We are not there for politics or fight court cases. For the last two years we have gone from one deadline to other but we also have our statues to comply", Ondarza said.
"HI has done everything except for holding clear and transparent elections. We want hockey to be played on the field not in courts. If these goes on then we will be forced to do something," he said.

"We also have our commitments to other teams for the World Cup. If within a few days time the matter is solved, I personally will stand up for India before the FIH board. The least we want is to hurt the athletes," Ondarza added.

The FIH vice-president also expressed astonishment over the Delhi High Court's order that IHF was the sole governing body for the sport in the country as it had de-recognised the KPS Gill-led Federation way back in 2000.

"The court says IHF is the sole body for hockey in India. How can I not be surprised when FIH has de-recognised IHF in 2000. IHF was governing only men's hockey in India but in 2000 we once again reminded that it should have a joint body, which is the pre-condition of International Olympic Council. For us IHF does not exist," Ondarza said.

"All other countries have formed a single joint national federation in 2000 except for India. Subsequently, Indian Hockey Confederation was formed but it was only in paper. You have to make all understand that by doing this you are only damaging the sport.
"We are not achieving anything by these court cases, we are only hurting the athletes," he added.

The FIH official also said that if the matter was not solved at the earliest, India also faces the risk of losing the hosting rights of next year's Champions Trophy.

"We successfully hosted this year's men's World Cup here and in our Executive Board meeting 10 days back in Nottingham we decided to come here again with the Champions Trophy because we wanted the momentum to go on. But if the situation remains the same we will be forced to shift the tournament," Ondarza said.

HI secretary general Narinder Batra said the stay orders compelled them to adjourn today's Annual General Meeting at the half-way mark but expressed optimism of holding the same at the earliest.

"As scheduled we started our AGM in the morning and even held discussions on some agendas. But the stay orders later in the day forced us to adjourn the meeting. But it will be held at a later date when the stays are vacated," he said.

"We want to comply with FIH statues as soon as possible because we know if we can't, India may be stopped from participating in the women's World Cup," Batra added.
Meanwhile, Indian Hockey Federation president KPS Gill today offered an olive branch to the IOA and Hockey India to sit together and find a solution to the hockey mess.

The Sports Ministry yesterday issued a statement that it would work to obtain co-operation of both the IHF and HI in the best interest of hockey in the country, and Gill felt all the parties should start working on this basis.

"I don't want to go into a debate on any issue. There has been lot of mudslinging going on. It won't help and only hockey will suffer. The most realistic way out now is to sit together and thrash out the issues," Gill said.

"Cases have been pending in seven High Courts now. It is in a very bad shape. So, let us get together and if we do so I think we can thrash it out in a week," he added confidently.

The combative former super cop said he was happy that the government seemed to be taking a lead role, though belatedly, to try and reconcile the two national hockey bodies.
"I am happy with the government's statement yesterday, it is a positive thing. Had the government taken the step two months back the problems would have been sorted out by now. But at least the government has taken the lead now and we should start from there," he said.

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