SC allows IOA, HI to pick team

Important that the best team is fielded in CWG, says apex court

A bench of justices R V Raveendran and H L Gokhale said, “The teams will be selected by IOA and HI with active participation of the four selectors nominated by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and two coaches for the men’s team and there is no problem with the selection of the women’s team.’’

"We direct as an interim measure that IOA and HI will field the Indian team for men’s and women’s hockey in the Commonwealth Games," the bench added. The order was passed after HI’s rival Indian Hockey Federation admitted that it was not affiliated to the international hockey federation (FIH). IOA also said that it recognises only HI as the national federation.

Solicitor General Gopal Subramanium, appearing for the Sports Authority of India, submitted that 27 players have been practising in Pune under the guidance of two coaches – Jose Brasa and Harendra Singh. A team of national selectors — Zafar Iqbal, Ajit Pal Singh, BP Govinda and Balvinder Singh — is stationed at Pune for selecting the team for the Games.

He claimed that for a national team to participate in the Commonwealth Games, the IOA can directly make the entry before the Commonwealth Games Federation and there was no need for any national body to be affiliated with the FIH.

"We find no reason why IOA should not field the team in assistance with the HI as has been done in the case of Indian women's hockey team for the World Cup in Argentina," the bench said.

"We hope that all stakeholders will realise that it is important that the best team is fielded, instead of indulging in internal squabble," the bench said. Commenting on the dispute, the bench said, "We find this is a case of much ado about nothing," as every body agrees including HI, SAI (Sports Authority of India) and IOA that the team would be selected by the national selection committee.

"It is not if SAI, HI, IOA have differences over the selection of players. Players are the same and selectors are same for everybody," said the bench. The order was passed after Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports failed to convince the court that IOA alone could facilitate the entry of the teams to the Games.

"IOA is an umbrella body. If it did not have expertise in the game how a team could be selected by it," the bench observed. The apex court was also surprised that in the selection of the team, the coach has no say.

"India has a dubious distinction that the coaches have no say in the selection of the team," the bench said. The court allowed the IOA to add any member into the selection panel and posted the hearing after the Games.

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