After much speculation, it has been decided that the Pakistan men's junior team will not take part in this year's Junior Hockey World Cup to be held in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh.
International Hockey Federation (FIH) stated on Monday that Pakistan government has applied for visas for players after the official deadline and instead named Malaysia as the replacement side for the 16-team event that will be held from December 8 to 18.
However, speaking to Indian Express PHF’s executive secretary Zain Aman told hours before the FIH decision on Monday that the team’s itinerary has already been finalised. “We have applied for the visas long back and are in touch with the Indian embassy. As soon as we receive our visas, the team will leave for India,” he said.
The statement from FIH stated, “Visas had been applied for after the official deadline and no accommodation was confirmed within the set deadlines. Despite a number of correspondence and reminders, the PHF was not able to show that their team would be able to travel to Lucknow for the event which begins in only a few days’ time.”
FIH’s decision to remove Pakistan from the World Cup came just days after the election of their new president Narinder Batra. The decision, however, received an overwhelming majority and support from even Pakistan.
"FIH regrets that Pakistan's men's junior team will not be able to take part in this year's Uttar Pradesh Hockey Junior World Cup even though they had officially qualified," the statement said.
The FIH statement further states, “FIH has substantial contractual obligations to its partners to deliver a full number of matches at the forthcoming Uttar Pradesh Hockey Junior World Cup Men, Lucknow 2016. With the event starting in only a few days’ time, today was the last possibility for FIH to ensure the quality of the event, with a full complement of 16 teams playing in Lucknow,”
The last time Pakistan travelled to India for any sporting event was in December 2014, for the Champions Trophy held in Bhubaneswar. This was not the first instance of a Pakistani side being pulled out as they were also pulled out of the kabaddi world cup in October due to security issues following a series of protests against Pakistani citizens by political groups after the Uri attacks.