The International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Thursday threatened to shift next year’s World Cup out of India unless the ad-hoc committee,
running the sport in the country, puts in place a democratically elected federation within six months.
An FIH delegation, led by president Leandro Negre, is presently on a three-day visit to India to take stock of preparations for the 2010 World Cup to be held here from March 7 to 20.
Although the FIH president has expressed satisfaction over security issues and construction work of the stadiums, he warned that it won’t be possible to host the mega event in India without a unified body — Hockey India — consisting of both the men’s and women’s federations under one roof.
He said that the FIH has prepared a plan ‘B’ in case officials running Indian hockey — the IOA-appointed ad-hoc committee — fail to abide by their recommendations.
In that scenario, the mega event might be shifted to Malaysia as they have already expressed desire to host it. “The FIH is determined to host the World Cup in India. Our goal is to have the best World Cup in Delhi, but the event can’t be held without a federation.”
“India need a unified body to run hockey before the World Cup. It is essential. But we have received promise from the IOA that within six months everything will be set up,” Negre said.
“We also have a plan ‘B’ in place in case of any eventualities. Malaysia is ready to host the event and they have one of the best hockey facilities in the world. But it’s just a plan as the FIH is eager to see the World Cup in Delhi,” Negre added.
He also said the FIH is ready to extend every possible help to India in their quest for hosting the World Cup. “We will take some time and study the findings of our visit. We are here to know the situation, meet administrators and advice them. We will support them, but FIH won’t involve in any internal affairs. It is up to the Indian authorities to resolve the issue,” he said.
Negre, who was a member of Spain’s hockey team at the 1968 Mexico City Olympics, expressed satisfaction over the recent progress of the Indian team and said a strong showing by the host nation is essential to the success of the showpiece event.
“For organising the World Cup in New Delhi, we need a good performance from India. Their performance hasn’t been good in the past few years.”
The FIH president, however, made it clear that he was satisfied with what he has seen during his visit and security and other issues won’t come in the way of India’s hosting rights.
“Apart from this (elected federation) issue, we are really very pleased. We are happy with the venues and the facilities are incredible. The stadiums have approximately 20,000 seating capacity which is amazing,” Negre said.
“Security is an important issue anywhere in the world. It’s a general issue for any host country. But the IOA and the government has given us guarantees on security and we are satisfied,” he added.
Asked about the uncertainty over Pakistan’s participation in the 2010 World Cup because of the volatile relations between the two countries, Negre said, “Pakistan’s participation would be great for the event but they have to decide on the matter if they qualify for the World Cup.”
FIH vice-president Antonio Von Ondarza echoed Negre on India’s hosting rights and said it’s high time officials start working in the right direction if they wish to stage the World Cup.
“We are here to help. If you have to achieve something you need to work. We are leaving tonight but now it’s upto India to work together to host the World Cup,” he said.
IOA secretary-general Randhir Singh said such a situation wouldn’t arise as they would implement all FIH’s suggestions within the stipulated time.
“We are going by FIH’s suggestion. We are holding meetings with the women’s federation and will come out with a solution very soon. We are working on a plan with FIH and won’t give them the opportunity to implement plan ‘B’,” he assured.
Meanwhile, on the issue of India’s foreign coach, convenor of the ad-hoc committee, Mohammad Aslam Khan said they are one step away from finalising the coach.
India are without a head coach for the last eight months after Australian Ric Charlesworth resigned last July.
Although, Spaniard Jose Brasa is tipped to take charge after meeting ad-hoc committee officials three months ago, a final decision is still pending.
“The process regarding the coach is in its final stages. A final offer has been sent to Brasa and we are expecting to settle the issue within a month,” Aslam said.