Apologize for misbehaviour and participate in the HIL, Sardar Singh declares to Pakistan
However, Moritz Furste and Ashley Jackson believe Hockey India should not restrict players based on nationalities
Indian captain Sardar Singh supported Hockey India’s stand of not allowing Pakistani players to play in the cash-rich Hero Hockey India League (HIL) until they tender an apology for their unruly behavior during the aftermath of the 2014 Champions Trophy semi finals in Bhubaneswar.
During the unveiling ceremony, Sardar who will captain Jaypee Punjab Warriors this year, asserted, "What they did during the Champions Trophy was unacceptable and until and unless they apologize for their misbehavior they should not be allowed.”
Two Pakistani players – Muhammad Tousiq and Ali Amjad were handed a one-match ban while Shafqat Rasool was reprimanded by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for making obscene gestures after their team’s tense 4-3 victory over the hosts.
Following the final hooter, the visibly animated Pakistani players took off their shirts and made obscene gestures towards the spectators and the media personnel in front of the packed 7,000-capacity, Kalinga Stadium.
Though the then Pakistan chief coach Shahnaz Sheikh apologized for the incident, HI boss Narinder Batra has repeatedly demanded a formal apology from the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF).
As the fourth edition of the HIL is set to commence on Monday, once again the debate has begun whether sports should be kept above bilateral issues. Several highly talented players from across the border were a part of the inaugural HIL edition in 2013.
However, they had to leave India before the start of the tournament following protests from some political organizations. Since then, no Pakistani has played in the six-team tournament.
Though HI remains steadfast on the contention that the Champions Trophy incident was the reason for their objection, strained ties between the South Asian neighbors may have a lot to do with it.
Taking the debate further, Kalinga Lancers' captain Moritz Furste and Ranchi Rays' skipper Ashley Jackson felt that the organizers must find a way out so that the best players in the world come and play in the league.
The 31-year old German, Furste said, “HIL is a great event in the world of hockey. In my personal view, players from all over the world should be allowed to play, if possible. I am not much aware of the politics and other things. They (both parties) must find a solution for all players.” England’s Jackson also echoed Furste's opinion.