New Delhi: Indian hockey players have threatened to pull out of the ongoing national camp in Pune if they are not paid their match fees for the recently-concluded Champions Challenge I tournament in Argentina.
The senior players are unhappy with the delay in payment and have written to Hockey India president A.K. Mattoo demanding that their dues be cleared within seven days.
The letter says nothing about pulling out but sources say that the players have actually decided to withdraw from the camp if they do not receive their money in a week’s time.
When contacted, Mattoo confirmed he had received a letter from the players.
“I have received a letter from the players. We are looking at the possibilities for making the payments early,” Mattoo said.
The players said that while on previous occasions they have been paid in advance, this time the remuneration has not come even after the conclusion of the tournament.
“We would like to be paid for the Champions Challenge in Argentina. For the last three years, we were paid Rs 25,000 each for every tournament before we left India. We would like our payments for this time (the Argentina meet) and, as for future tournaments, please make arrangements to pay well in advance,” the players have demanded in the letter.
India won bronze in the tournament, held in Salta, Argentina last month. They lost to archrivals Pakistan in the semi-finals and beat Argentina in the third place playoff, overcoming a two-goal deficit to eke out a 3-2 win.
This is the second time in recent history that Indian hockey finds itself in troubled waters due to players’ grievances and not only that, the last crisis to rock the sport, too, came out of the camp in Pune.
In November last year, the players had written to Mattoo accusing chief coach Jose Brasa of acting in a high-handed manner.
Sandeep Singh had been dropped as captain by Brasa for the seven-match series against Canada and, led by the drag-flicker, most of the players who couldn’t find a place in the team for the Champions Challenge tournament turned against the Spanish coach.
Brasa had named Rajpal Singh captain and told reporters that Sandeep would not be part of the Indian squad for the December 6-13 tournament due to a back strain.
That crisis had seen Mattoo rushing to Pune to douse the flames and in an apparent snub to the head coach the president denied Rajpal’s appointment as captain for the Champions Challenge.
However, it ended with Brasa having his way and Rajpal confirmed as captain for the meet in Argentina. Sandeep, it was announced, would take three week’s rest for his back injury.