The article never misquoted Leandro Negre in any paragraph. The interview was done during the Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh and the same facts appeared in the www.theStar.com.my and in the Hindu by A. Thiagarajan.
By Jugjet Singh as told to him by Leandro Negre
(Leandro Negre is the president of the International Hockey Federation)
THE International Hockey Federation (FIH) is well aware that Asia, once a powerhouse in hockey, is fast slipping behind Europe and other continents, and it needs urgent help.
That is why, more emphasis will be placed on this continent, and if giving hockey sticks and balls can start the sport in smaller playing nations, so be it.
The FIH will start with helping India prepare a strong team for the 2010 New Delhi World Cup. It will serve no purpose if India are only good hosts, but do not even qualify for the semi-finals.
I, personally, would be the happiest person if at the end of the World Cup, I end up presenting the trophy to India. It will be a big boost to Asian hockey if that happens.
And during breaks, the India players will re-group and play against top clubs, from England, Spain, Netherlands or Germany.
There is a tremendous fan-base in England for the India team, and I believe the players will benefit from this exercise when they play in the World Cup.
Our partners in global hockey must be allowed to run their own houses. So, in future there will not be meddling from the FIH as continental federations know best on how to handle their programmes.
Money will also be channeled straight into the continental federations, and they will decide how to utilise it.
Another change which is being looked into is the qualifying system, which has placed many countries in a dilemma, and is too costly, and also takes up the greater part of FIH's time.
Having qualifiers all around the world and only promoting the gold medallists not only deprives some teams, but is also a waste of time and efforts which could be channeled into better work.
It was tragic when in the Beijing Olympic Qualifiers, teams were placed with Germany in Japan, with Argentina in Auckland and India in Chile.
Many teams gave up right after they knew that it was next to impossible to qualify.
I envision that soon, we will revert to the one-qualifier where 12 teams compete in two groups, and six are selected for the main event.
This way, even the placing matches will be keenly fought, and the tournament does not become a side-show once the chance to play in the final is out of sight.
Hockey is also feeling the pinch of the global economic slowdown, and having too many qualifiers for the women and the men is no longer realistic.
Lastly, my visit to India reaffirmed that they are capable hosts, with only one pressing matter which they must sort out.
India must have a democratic election to replace the ad-hoc committee, if not, we have Malaysia on standby as Plan B.
It is our responsibility to have a backup plan in case we are left with no option.