Hockey India polls deferred once again

Troubled body decides to move Supreme Court
Last Updated 28 July 2010, 18:38 IST

On a day of rapid developments, the Bombay High Court first stayed HI elections, which was scheduled to be held here on Wednesday, 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 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.

Dire consequences
As expected, the election postponement did not go down well with FIH, which warned India of dire consequences.
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 efforts,” 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.

FIH astonished
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.
“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.
“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 and hurting the athletes.”

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.

(Published 28 July 2010, 18:38 IST)

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