Indian hockey in crisis as players refuse to train

NEW DELHI: Indian hockey plunged into fresh crisis on Monday as its leading players resumed a strike, just weeks before the country hosts the World Cup.

A truce reached over the weekend after a marathon meeting between the players and officials of governing body Hockey India collapsed almost at once as the team refused to end their boycott of a training camp in Pune.

The tussle over pay and conditions has hit preparations for the World Cup to be held in New Delhi from February 28 to March 13.

“The amount being offered to us is peanuts,” Indian captain Rajpal Singh was quoted as saying by the Times of India.

“We were given assurances at the meeting but nothing was put on paper. We discussed the matter with other team members and decided not to accept Hockey India’s offer.

“Until this issue is resolved, we will not resume training.”

Hockey India reacted sharply to the latest boycott.

“It’s really shocking,” Hockey India treasurer Narinder Batra told AFP.

“They agreed to our offer on Saturday and now they are back on strike. They can’t hold a nation to ransom. It is blatant blackmailing.

“They want a graded system of payment, better incentives and insurance cover but these things cannot be put into place overnight. We are not going to tolerate such behaviour and we will take disciplinary action against them.”

At the World Cup India and arch-rivals Pakistan have been drawn together in Pool B alongside Australia, Spain, England and South Africa in the 12-nation tournament.

Germany head Pool A, which includes the Netherlands, South Korea, New Zealand, Canada and Argentina.

The dispute comes as India have been struggling to revive their fortunes after failing to qualify for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. —AFP