FIH to invite Pakistan for Hockey World Cup in India
What’s the story?
Despite Indo-Pak political tensions, the Pakistan hockey team will be invited to play the Hockey World Cup in India which is going to be held in Bhubaneswar from November 28 to December 16, this year.
International Hockey Federation (FIH) president Narinder Batra confirmed the news during a Hockey India (HI) event where the federation announced its five-year association with the Odisha state government to sponsor both the men’s and women’s teams.
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Pakistan, the team with most number of World Cup titles to their name, had qualified for this edition of the World Cup after finishing seventh at the Hockey World League (HWL) semifinals in London. They were helped by the fact that some results of other teams at the EuroHockey Championships went their way.
The heart of the matter
Sporting ties between India and Pakistan have been hampered for several years due to political tensions between the countries. It must be noted that Pakistan’s kabaddi, squash and wrestling teams also did not travel to India for major tournaments last year while the two nations haven’t faced each other in bilateral cricket series since 2013.
However, Batra confirmed that Pakistan would definitely be invited to the event. “Pakistan will be invited because it’s an FIH-sanctioned event. We have taken the necessary permissions from the external affairs ministry. There are certain rules and procedures in which participating nations have to apply for visas 60 days prior to the start of the tournament. There are other procedures which Pakistan will have to follow,” Batra said during the Hockey India event.
Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) will have to sort out the visa issues beforehand because in 2016 the Pakistan junior hockey team failed to participate in the Junior Hockey World due to visa related matters. According to the FIH, the PHF had applied for the players’ visas after the official deadline had expired.
The natives of both countries will be looking forward to seeing Pakistan play in India after a while. Now it remains to be seen whether the Pakistan Hockey Federation manages to fulfil the other procedures.