Monday, January 18, 2010

FIH Observer Ondorza should resign


Monday, 18 Jan. 2010

Why FIH ‘Observer’ Ondorza should also resign?

We in India are in an embarrassing, unusual, unfortunate and uncomfortable situation of demanding resignation of an FIH official. This plea bears consideration to issues and facts that came up last week on the Indian soils, which centers around the personality in question.

Case for this is made out on two counts: One, he unnecessarily interfered in what is pure a domestic affair for which we hope he had no mandate from the FIH.

Two, except two States, all 31 State Units that had been given affiliation by the Hockey India has no women as Secretary or President. He failed to 'observe' gender equality, which is definitely his mandate.

Let us now go into the details.

Now that Hockey India’s nominated president AK Mattoo has tendered his resignation, it is appropriate Ontonio van Ondorza, the FIH vice president also do the same, for the simple reason his articulated views were not accepted by the authorities here. In public offices, credibility and image are things of importance.

Ondorza exceeded his brief and has taken stand on certain domestic issues on which we feel he should have no say or right, to start with.

His outbursts – that we all saw with wide eyes in a nationally ‘Live’ telecast program -- do not behove of a visiting dignitary of a global organization.

He has come here as Hockey India election Observer.

But went to Pune, where the players stopped practice sessions demanding their grievances. We feel he should not have gone there in the first place.

When this demand started and practice session stopped, Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi was in the same Belewadi complex along with Maharashtra Chief Minister to inaugurate a State level departmental sports meet. But he did not go to hockey players, perhaps he thought it is a developing situation, it is the duty of Hockey India. Whatever, it was his position.

However, this gentle man chose to go with the Hockey India officials to Pune, and shared the dais on a matter that is totally domestic in character. He openly took sides was dragging the FIH’s name in every sentence he spoke.

He also went further in a ‘Live’ television show in the same night. He authoritatively asserted that the present lot of players will not get any sympathy from FIH community and all the visiting teams of the World Cup; he even advocated selection of another team. When the anchor, a renowned television personality, Arnab Goswami, posed him straight forward ‘is it not interference from the FIH in Indian team selection, is not the FIH bring pressure on the players’, he simply ducked, un-plucked his earphones, saying he is pulling out of the show.

This was in bad taste, and don’t think anybody in the FIH would like their own top official behaving in this distasteful fashion in a national television show – in country where the FIH is organizing the World Cup on its own for the first time.

His views on many matters (hockey is not a professional sports, hockey does not have money, no country pays for their players) looked academic, outdated and completely out of sync with the reality that exists in this part of the world. Anybody who heard his views would have easily made to believe the FIH is living in a time warp. Those issues he spoke had no contextual application as the point here in India was credibility of the administrators, rest were only details.

Ondorzo, quoting himself as a player who never demanded money for playing the country, (we appreciate this, and the whole lot of Indian players are also dong the same) have put the Indian players on bad light. Indian players a system of payment to come up, and demanded an assurance in writing. The issue here is, where does the money that comes to the Federation go. It is a question of credibility. Ondorzo’s views therefore appeared premature, unacceptable to anybody who watched the week long drama in India.

A player from New Zealand recently withdrew from World Cup because it affects his new job he got as a teacher. What will Ondorza have to say on this? Will he doubt the players’ patriotism? He did not ask money, but stayed away from World Cup due to monetary issues. Will Ondorzo now go to New Zealand and belittle the Kiwi player? That player has chosen his job than playing for the country, after all.

In India players are employed, which means they are professional. Leading clubs in Europe, Australia and even in Bangladesh pay for the player’s toil. India in the past had a monthly salary for the India players and the same is in vogue in Pakistan.

He has not understood India is not Venezuela.

He also expressed profound surprise players going ‘strike’. He enlightened us nowhere in any part of the world this has happened. All the statements he made were sweeping in nature.

A national coach in the Netherlands was shunted out before the 2004 Olympics as players revolted, for instance. This has happened numerous times in India before. If Ondorzo does not know all these, we are sorry.

In view of the developments that had taken place in the last four days – Hockey India ready to pay money to players and AK Mattoo’s resignation – Ondorza also owes moral responsibility. His stated position has been rebuffed. He should take this seriously.

Ondorzo definitely has offended our sentiments, questioned the players motive for which he has no business.

If he comes for the World Cup, he has meet the same players whom he castigated. There is only one way to avoid this embarrassment for him.

His resignation will do a great deal good for the FIH’s image, which is genuinely trying to improve the lot of Indian hockey.

Further, if he continues to visit India as he has been doing now, he might unnecessarily bring bad press to the FIH. He may have to do lot of explaining to the media, which will give negative publicity to hockey in general, FIH in particular.

Now that, as rebuff to his advocated views, Hockey India is going to pay for the players and the new dispensation is going to work out a regular payment system, Ondorza must understand his views did not have any takers. He has to save his face now.

Another reason for his exit is, Hockey India electoral college. Except in a couple of cases, all the President and Secretaries of 33 State unites are men. He failed to see gender equality. What is he observing then?

This we will discuss shortly in detail.

--s2h Team