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World Series of Hockey and after…
Monday 25, Jul 2011

The polemics over the World Series Hockey (WSH) is predictable. The surprise element is the stark ambivalence of the International Hockey Federation (FIH). In a clarification note, the FIH reiterates that IHF is not a recognised constituent unit. But goes on to state that players who have “signed contracts with World Series of Hockey before March 31 2011, could, subject to they having no other contractual, or national obligations with their respective National Associations, play in the League.” If IHF is not a recognised unit then why FIH labours hard to issuing an NOC for WSH? The plausible explanation is that it does not want to be drawn into a legal battle on the question of restraint on trade for players in case of a censure. The WSF promoters are learnt to have indicated to FIH a possible launch of a legal battle in Singapore, Lausanne and London. What an embarrassment the FIH is facing thanks to the plethora of problems related to India. Will the FIH give a helping hand? The WSH is to feature players from nine countries. It is also a mammoth project worth millions of dollars. Can the FIH permit an event on a scale as big as the WSH to run without its supervision? From the players' standpoint — there are 176 of them — the WSH is a bonanza. The payment and bonuses are handsome. Few players will reject them. Else, it is not easy to rope in players like Brent Livermore of Australia, Rodrigo Garcia of Spain and Lucas Vila of Argentina. What mechanism will the FIH employ if more players come into WSH after their “retirement?” Gigantic exercise The Nimbus Communications Ltd., its Executive Chairman Harish Thawani and COO Yannik Colaco, deserve gratitude of the hockey community. What they have launched is a gigantic exercise. The logistics are manifold. Success will depend on the ability for synchronising work of various sections from assembling players, selecting franchises, recruiting the best technical officers and, importantly, disbursing the financial rewards. All these demand for utmost professionalism. The need for seasoned technical officials is primary to facilitating a smooth conduct of the competition. The WSH management should not fight shy of seeking technical support from the FIH. Will the FIH oblige? If not, then the search for seasoned officials is necessary. It is revealed that as many as 147 officials, Tournament Directors/Officers and umpires from across the globe have offered help. A handful of Indian officials, who have handled the FIH tournaments are also a safe bet. There is understandable consternation in Hockey India. The stance taken by FIH is a shocker. But HI must strive clear of giving the impression of a spoil sport. After all, the whole lot of players at the national level are in the WSH net and stand to benefit financially. Hockey India should now refrain from making an issue out of the players attending the launch in Mumbai. That a call for strong action against them comes from Pargat Singh is strange. The former Olympian's credibility is at a new low after he had switched over to head the Development/Disciplinary Panels in the group against whom he contested for the post of president! In the interest of hockey, HI should whole-heartedly support the venture. At least, it must remain on the sidelines and allow the event to proceed without a hitch.

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