The light at the end of the tunnel is here for national hockey team member Gurbaj Singh. Earlier today, Hockey India officially ended the nine-month ban on the veteran Indian midfielder it had imposed in August, according to IBNLive.
Gurbaj, who has 200 international caps was banned for nine months after the Hockey World League Semifinals in Antwerp, Belgium, earlier this year. Hockey India was prompted to do so after a report submitted to them by erstwhile national coach Jude Felix, alleging that Gurbaj “created groupism in the team” and “misbehaved with the coaching staff”.
Head of Hockey India’s disciplinary committee Harinder Singh made the announcement at a press conference in New Delhi: “Keeping the Olympics in mind, we have lifted the ban on Gurbaj. We wanted to give a strong message to the team with this ban. Players should be disciplined and Gurbaj incident will give a strong message to the team. If this incident will happen again, we will take strict action.”
The lifting of the ban came after Punjab and Haryana High Court’s terming it “illegal” and hence nullifying it. This took place on Monday, the 19th of October. The Court also granted Hockey India a week’s time to decide if they wanted to convene and deliberate if they chose to impose a penalty of Level 1,2 or 3.
Justice Rakesh Kumar Jain iterated that the ban is not in accord with Hockey India’s Code of Conduct, according to which the maximum penalty of Level 3 for “misbehaviour”, results in a suspension for five international matches. Gurbaj has missed eleven international matches since the ban was imposed on him in August.
Harbinder Singh expressly stated that Hockey India made the decision from the perspective of the 2016 Olympics, “Keeping the Olympics in mind, we have lifted the ban on Gurbaj. We wanted to give a strong message to the team with this ban. Players should be disciplined and Gurbaj incident will give a strong message to the team. If this incident will happen again, we will take strict action.”
Singh also emphasized that the decision was taken independently by Hockey India,”Hockey India took the decision. Gurbaj should be a role model for the team. If he performs, he will play in the Rio Olympics. Gurbaj is a star player and the team needs him. We need 16 players for Rio Olympics and we hope to see Gurbaj in the team. The selection committee will decide on Gurbaj's selection and it has nothing to do with the ban.”