The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has supported its five wrestlers who have moved to the Delhi High Court. They have moved against exclusion by the Sports Authority of India (SAI) from benefits extended to U23World Championship team.
The plea was heard on Friday and the court has issued a notice to the SAI, WFI and Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports. The matter is listed for January 28, 2022 hearing.
The federation completely supported the decision of the wrestlers to call out the ministry for the “injustice” against them.
“It is just wrong what SAI is doing. How can we just ask a national champion to not compete when s/he has proved their mettle fair and square. We support out wrestlers and they should stand for the injustice,” a WFI official told Sportskeeda exclusively.
The U23 Worlds will begin from November 1 to 7 in Belgrade, Serbia.
WFI had recommended a list of 45-members including 30 wrestlers (10 each across freestyle, Greco-Roman and women’s wrestling) for the big-ticket event on September 7.
As per the proposal sent to the ministry, WFI has stated that they will be giving the U23 national champions the opportunity at the world championships.
Upon completion of the nationals on September 19, the federation sent the final list of members by September 21.
WFI sent their entry to United World Wrestling’s (UWW) athlete management system (ATHENA) for the competition on October 1.
The federation said they had done everything on time yet SAI took so long to clear the proposal. WFI also failed to understand the sudden scrutiny of their selection process and believes it will also impact team’s morale.
“There is a lot of file movement that takes place there, so we did things in advance. They had a lot of time but SAI decided to revert us on October 20. Firstly, they are interfering in our selection process. Secondly, they did all this just nine days before departure,” the official added.
SAI approved only seven and asked the WFI to recommend 17 more to whom the government benefits will extend to. As per the benefit, 24 wrestlers will be sent to the competition on government’s cost.
The ministry excluded three male freestyle grapplers, two Greco-Roman wrestlers and a female wrestler. It also excluded three coaches.
However, SAI has clarified that some of these coaches have not trained with these wrestlers.
Moreover, SAI also indicated that it scrutinized the list on the basis of performance in domestic and international events in the last three years.
It also suggested that the WFI should include coaches from the academies, producing a larger number of members of the contingent.
WFI looks towards sponsors for financial support
While SAI and WFI are at loggerheads, the federation made it clear that it will not let the wrestlers miss the competition. It decided to ask for financial support from its sponsors.
“We cannot play with a wrestler’s career. They train day in and out to reach this level and due to all this politics, they suffer. We have asked our sponsors for help and they have agreed,” the official said.