Save Indian Hockey: Petition Against FIH's Draconian Edict
Sporting Governing bodies stepping in with draconian, ice-age rules demeaning the charm of the sport is no new thing. Now add to that list the FIH. The draconian set of rules enacted by the International Hockey Federation which came into effect from March 2011 have brought about pandemonium and a sense of injustice in the sport, curbing the natural freedom of a hockey lover to enjoy and promote the sport.
From an Indian perspective, given that the national sport’s popularity is already in the doldrums, the FIH’s draconian edict has come as a shocker and a major stumbling block to aficionados trying hard to uplift the sport on wane. Having heard a firsthand account of a passionate hockey lover strongly associated with the sport’s upliftment in India who feels wronged by the draconian edict, here I point out the major flaws in the FIH’s enactment and strongly call for a radical change.
A 1.1 prohibit Athletes and other organisations and individuals under the jurisdiction of [NA X] participating in Unsanctioned Events
B 1.1 Organisations, Athletes, technical officials, umpires, coaching or management staff, and other individuals under [NA X]’s jurisdiction may not participate in any manner in any Unsanctioned Event.
In the FIH’s bid to assume omnipotence over hockey played all over the world, the governing body has come out to control every hockey event through co-ordination with national associations by allowing events that are only sanctioned by the national association. These are the nightmares that get thrown up as a result of this:
- The FIH’s rules are all encompassing and its definition of an ‘event’ includes every hockey event staged, be it a school recess hockey match or local mohalla games, which hockey aficionados like my interviewee are trying to organize in large numbers throughout the country to raise the sport’s dwindling popularity and reach the largely cricket crazy masses.
- By calling for the need to obtain a No-Objection Certificate from the National Governing body for locally organized events, the FIH has thrown logistical nightmares for Indian organizers, given the hassles associated with approaching the association every time to organize an event. Given the country’s notorious popularity for cronyism and red-tapism, it is only natural to assume the power will be abused by those possessing the power to provide the NOC.
- Given the ongoing tussle between Hockey India and the IHF over who controls the sport of hockey in India, the need to obtain an NOC from the ‘Home National Association’ exacerbates the already existing confusion. Who do the hockey players choose as their National Association?
- By controlling free participation of players in hockey events, the new edict curbs their ability to earn big money, affecting their livelihoods.
B 1.2 Any Organisation, Athlete, technical official, umpire, coaching or management staff, or other individual under [NA X]’s jurisdiction who is found to have participated in an Unsanctioned Event:
(b). may have disciplinary consequences imposed under [refer to [NA X]’s disciplinary rules] for failure to comply with clause B.1.1, including (if seen fit) being ruled ineligible to participate in any capacity in Sanctioned Events for a period of up to 12 months (first offence) or more (subsequent offences).
The decision to provide a one-year penalty for a first time offence is too harsh, given that players participating in local sanctioned events will not be able to play in any local hockey tournament. This is cruelty at its worst, for it curbs a player’s natural right to play hockey and it goes against the FIH’s preamble which states that the organization shall strive to ensure only the best players represent the country in FIH sanctioned events.
These are some of the several confusing thoughts running through the mind of a hockey lover about the FIH’s edict. To several people in India like my interviewee, hockey is more than a sport, it is an expression of national pride. And an act of cruelty snatching away their right to play, promote and organize the sport they love freely is injustice. With the sport of hockey already waning in popularity in India, these set of draconian rules will only further the upliftment process. So here I call for all hockey aficionados to join hands, stand tall and call for changes in the FIH’s new edict.
Save Hockey! Oppose the FIH’s Draconian Edict!
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