FIH intervention sought in Indian hockey elections

KARACHI - As many as 30 hockey associations of India have requested the president of the FIH Leandro Negre to intervene in the hockey affairs of the country and order Indian Olympic Association to hold free and fair elections of the IHF which has been suspended following poor performance of the Indian team in the Beijing Olympic qualifiers in Chile last year. According to reports filtering across the border and available here Tuesday Bengal Hockey Association chief JB Roy on Tuesday representing thirty hockey associations of the country met the FIH delegation in New Delhi recently and told Leandro Negre that only an elected national body could take the game forward in the country. He asked the FIH who hail from Spain" Can you imagine hockey in Spain without the federation? Has it ever happened that the Olympic body in Spain ran the affairs of the game? It doesn't augur well for hockey if the World Cup next year is held in India without an elected body,". He also urged Negre to impress upon the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) to call for federation elections as soon as possible. After India failed to qualify for Beijing Olympics, the IOA slapped an ad hoc body on the IHF about a year ago since than all the hockey affairs were being run by the IOC appointed ad hockey body headed by the IOA president Suresh Kalmadi. The IHF headed by former Indian Punjab police chief bearded KPS Gill notoriously known for his role in suppressing insurgency many years ago in Indian Punjab ruthlessly went to the court to challenge the IOA decision. Negre was positive in his response to the complaints of JB Roy and had assured that he would be speaking with the IOA on the issue. JB Roy wanted Negre to talk to the IOA and convince them that elections ought to be conducted at the earliest. Roy had told Negre that the elections will have to be necessarily overseen by an FIH observer."We want free and fair elections. That can happen only if an observer from the FIH supervises the process. We don't mind IOA being involved but we don't want them to take the lead role." Roy is also keen on addressing the key issue of a unified national body raised by the FIH. Leandro Negre is in India on a three day official visit to personally meet the officials and asses the preparedness to hold the 2010 world cup in New Delhi in March 3-20 and to get official opinion on security situation in India. Recently at a meeting held in Europe the Board of Directors of FIH had shown reservation on security situation in India. After holding meetings with government officials and the IOA officials, Negre said despite the Indian government and the organizers' assurance of fool-proof security for the 2010 World Cup concerns still remain. Indian Sports Minister MS Gill, (no relation of KPS Gill) in his meeting with the FIH delegation assured him that security and infrastructure would not be an issue during the mega-event which India would be hosting second time since the cup was introduced by Pakistan in 1971. After the meeting Negre said he along with the FIH delegation had a detailed meeting with the IOA officials and with the Sports Minister, they have given us full guarantee about security and other aspects, but still there were some concerns which needs to be addressed.The FIH President also inspected the venues, the National Stadium and Dhyan Chand Stadium, in the morning and expressed his satisfaction on the construction work. Sports Minister MS Gill assured the visiting International Hockey Federation (FIH) delegation that security and infrastructure would not be an issue when the capital hosts the World Cup next year. He told the visitors that a four nation event would be held before the world cup to test the preparedness of the venue. He promised that the goeverment would push vigorously to ensure that all renovation and construction works were ready as scheduled. The issue of security did come up in during the discussion and the Minister assured the FIH chief that the government would work at every level to ensure security not only for the hockey World Cup but also for the Commonwealth Games.

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