Politicians, biz men harming sports: SC

Sportspersons must be at helm, says apex court

The Supreme Court on Thursday slammed politicians and businessmen occupying sports bodies as they caused more harm to the game and felt that these bodies should be run by sportspersons only.A bench of Justices T S Thakur and J Chelameswar ascribed the falling standard of hockey to the scenario in which those having nothing to do with the sport holding the post of administrator.

“Sports are run by private individuals...(who are) controlling the games in India. Can the game be held hostage by private interests? This is why hockey has fallen in standards and the team is struggling to qualify for Olympics where we used to win gold medals,” the bench said.

“These officers run the federations at the cost of the game. They do not have anything to do with the game. It is a sad commentary on sports in the country,” it  said.

Indian Hockey Federation (IHF) approached the apex court seeking a direction to stay the proceedings started by Federation of International Hockey (FIH) to ascertain if rival body Hockey India (HI) or IHF would represent the country at international events. IHF and HI have a long standing feud as both laid their claim to the official body of the sport.

The bench, while refusing to pass any direction, asked both the bodies to present their case before the FIH. It also asked the HI to respond to the contention of the IHF and posted the matter for hearing in January.

However, the bench said that such litigation to control sports bodies was never witnessed in other countries.

“Government is unable to control the sports societies and you (bodies) keep fighting. Is there any federation which is not fighting legal battles in courts,” the bench remarked.

“Who are heading the sports federations? They are businessmen. Is there an Olympian in the society? You brought this game to abysmal low that you do not qualify to send your team to international events,” the bench posed to senior advocate U U Lalit, appearing for IHF.

As the case relating to recognition was pending in the apex court, Lalit said, “I want the issue to be decided by this court.”

Senior advocate Ashok Desai, appearing for HI, contended that it was IHF which had brought the issue before FIH and was now challenging the proceedings.

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