Hockey India President Gyanendro Ningobam, in a letter to International Hockey Federation (FIH) CEO Thierry Weil, expressed displeasure regarding Hockey Belgium's comments on Indian Hockey players.
A few national associations in Belgium have shown resentment towards Indian athletes who made a clean sweep at the FIH Hockey Stars Awards.
"I write to you today on behalf of the Hockey India Executive Board that is very disturbed by the reaction of some National Associations and athletes to the announcement of the Indian nominees as the winners of the recently announced FIH Hockey Stars Awards 2021. We believe that the public statements of displeasure at the announcement of the Indian winners is highly disrespectful and not in the spirit of sportsmanship and the sport of Hockey," said the Hockey India President.
Earlier, Hockey Belgium expressed their disappointment with the outcome of the FIH Hockey Star Awards. Hockey Belgium uttered an umbrage as Hockey India swept multiple awards where the nominations comprised of gold medal-winning teams. Belgium also went on to say it will work with FIH to ensure a fairer system in the future.
Indian hockey players swept the 2020-21 edition of the FIH Stars Awards. Harmanpreet Singh (Best Player, Men), Gurjit Kaur (Best Player, Women), Savita Punia (Best Goalkeeper, Women), PR Sreejesh (Best Goalkeeper, Men), Sharmila Devi (Best Rising Star, Women) and Vivek Prasad (Best Rising Star, Men) won the awards in their respective categories.
Hockey Belgium's comments on the Indians Sweeping FIH Awards is clear discrimination: Hockey India
Hockey India cited Belgium's aversion towards Indian players sweeping the FIH annual awards as nothing short of "discrimination." They urged the world body to initiate a thorough probe into the matter.
"The public statement of displeasure at the announcement of the Indian winners is highly disrespectful and not in the spirit of sportsmanship and the sport of hockey. The objections on behalf of Belgium Federation for 2021 winners needs to be carefully examined by the FIH Governance Panel for what is considered by myself as a case of discrimination/racial discrimination," wrote Hockey India President Gyanendro Ningobam.
Hockey India's President stated that Indian players and coaches have equitably bagged votes across all categories. Negative comments from certain associations are sabotaging the hard work and achievement of the players.
"The Indian athletes have legitimately won the polls, in most cases across all three categories yet the shine of winning has been totally undermined by such negative comments by fellow athletes and National Associations. ls it fair that the hard work and efforts of these athletes are being scrutinised and they are being put through such harassment and mental intimidation because they and their National Association made a full commitment to the market and promote themselves?" said the Hockey India president.