HWL semi final 2017 India vs Pakistan: Sports Ministry chooses Champions Trophy final over Hockey World League semis

Major Dhyanchand National Stadium will have a live screening of the Champions Trophy final
Tushar Varma

What’s the story?

Sunday promises to be a great day, with sports fans gearing up for two high-profile matches featuring India and Pakistan.

After two weeks of amazing cricket in the 2017 Champions Trophy, it is time for the ultimate showdown - the final at the Kennington Oval in London between India and Pakistan. On the same day, another equally high-profile match will take place between India and Pakistan in a fierce Hockey World League (HWL) semifinal clash.

The Sports Ministry have installed giant LED screens at the Major Dhyanchand National Stadium for public viewing of the Champions Trophy final.

Former hockey players have not taken the news well, though, and Ashok Kumar, Dhyanchand’s son was quoted saying, “I am feeling really sad about it. The stadium is named after my father and the Ministry is showing cricket there. This is unacceptable. This shows how much they care about the game of hockey. For them, cricket is a priority when the BCCI doesn’t even care about their policies. They could have chosen the central park at the Connaught Place or the Ferozeshah Kotla Stadium if the idea was really to involve the public.”

Another former Olympian, Zafar Iqbal remarked: “The government should look after other sports as well, not just cricket. It doesn’t need any promotion. Everyone wants to gain from cricket’s popularity. Why’s the Ministry promoting cricket? Isn’t hockey their priority, being an Olympic sport? Dhyanchand Stadium is for hockey, and better it remains so for the purpose.”

In case you didn’t know...

The Champions Trophy matchup promises to be an absolute thriller as it has been 10 years since the two sides last clashed in a final. The intense rivalry between the two sides was renewed in this year’s competition when they squared off at Edgbaston in Birmingham on June 4. The Men in Blue were comfortable victors in that match, winning by 124 runs. Pakistan and India are tied 2-2 in their Champions Trophy head-to-head.

On the other hand, in the Hockey World League semifinals, the traditional rivals from the subcontinent find themselves in the same group. Pakistan are ahead in the head to head with 82 wins compared to India’s 55 but India are ranked 6 whilst Pakistan are placed in the 13th position in the world rankings.

The heart of the matter

The decision to screen the Champions Trophy final has raised quite a few eyebrows. Many have wondered why the Ministry has chosen to put so much effort into the cricket final when the BCCI (the cricket’s governing body in the country) considers itself to be a private body and has rebuffed the Sports Ministry’s efforts to bring it under the National Sports Code.

The Sports Ministry has reportedly spent Rs 3.5 lakh on advertising for the event with Sports Minister Vijay Goel inaugurating “the mega LED screens at the National Stadium”.

The Ministry are also paying Rs 30,000 as rent for the screens on the match days while a caterer from the Chandni Chowk area, Goel’s parliamentary constituency, is being used to serve chargeable local delicacies to the viewers.

According to the Ministry rules, no tender is to be floated for an amount less than Rs 2.5 lakh, which means that the vendor has been selected at the Minister’s suggestion.

What’s next?

Team India’s Hockey match will be broadcast on Star Sports 2 and Star Sports 1HD Hindi. The match has a scheduled start time of 6:30 p.m.

The Champions Trophy final will begin at 3 pm IST and will be broadcast on the Star Sports network.

Author’s take

The Dhyanchand Stadium is considered to be synonymous with hockey, having been named after the game’s legend himself. Screening a cricket final over a hockey semi-final at a hockey stadium undermines the importance of hockey, especially taking into account the fact that hockey was considered to be India’s national game at one point and remains one of our most important Olympic events.

Edited by Staff Editor


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