What goes around, comes around
The Indian High Commissioner has been requested to stop a group of Pakistani athletes from travelling to India to play in a series of kabaddi matches in India later next month.
The request was made by the Pakistan Kabaddi Federation (PKF), claiming that that the said group of players do not represent the association.
The PKF also alleged that the invitation was extended to these players by a fake Indian kabaddi association and not by their counterparts Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI).
The allegations raise many questions that have been a malady in the sport for many years now.
But the uniqueness of the current issue is that it has affected the same parties who had perpetuated similar incidents in the past.
At the Islamabad South Asian Games in 2004, the kabaddi competition was engulfed in controversy when it was revealed that the Nepal team was not an accredited team.
While the Games rules stated that participation was only open to players from kabaddi federations affiliated to the Asian Amateur Kabaddi Federation (AAKF), the Nepal team was not from the relevant affiliated body.
A couple of teams wanted the Nepal team disqualified from the competition but both Pakistan and India, who were instrumental in the team initial inclusion, appealed on behalf of Nepal.
In the end, the other teams decided to allow Nepal to play but participated under protest.
At the World Cup kabaddi championships in Mumbai the same year, a kabaddi team from a small club was brought in by the Indian federation to play as the Malaysian national team. This was allowed despite vehement protests from the registered Malaysian association.
On both occasions, both the Nepal and the Malaysian national kabaddi associations were not in good terms with their Indian counterparts. Illegitimate teams were allowed to play as a political ploy to undermine the existing national associations in both countries.
Today, there are at least two international bodies governing the sport – World Kabaddi Federation (WKF) and the International Kabaddi Federation (IKF). This is a situation similar to taekwondo which also has two international governing bodies.
In India, there are also numerous associations claiming the right to govern the sport.
Apart from the AKFI, there are also the All India Kabaddi Federation (AIKF), Indian Kabaddi Federation (IKF), the Indian Beach Kabaddi Federation (IBKF), the All India Circle Kabaddi Federation (AICKF) and the Indian National Style Kabaddi Federation (INSKF).
There may be more such associations. However, the crux of matter is that kabaddi is such a fractured sport, much of it created by the very people entrusted to unite it.
Coming back to the initial issue, does the PKF have the right to stop a team from the country playing in India.
It is a very subjective issue as only the Pakistani government through the Sports Ministry may have the legal status from stopping anyone from using the name Pakistan.
Can the PKF protest if the team is playing under a club’s or an independent organisation’s that is not affiliated to them? The most the PKF can do is to take disciplinary action against teams and players under their auspices.
In this case the invitation has also come from a registered body in India and that too one that has no connection with the PKF or the AKFI.
The PKF had claimed that if the team was allowed to play in India, it would have a negative effect on them.
How true. What goes around, comes around.