An apology from the coach was unacceptable to cash-rich Hockey India (HI), who threatened International Hockey Federation (FIH) that it would not hold world tournaments in future if it didn’t take sterner action against Pakistan.
As it happened, FIH banned two players of the Pakistan semifinal winning team for one match hours before the green-shirts summit clash match against Germany. It came as a big blow to Pakistan and the team must have gone through a trauma of such absurdity at international level where a single country dictates its terms.
It must have satisfied the ‘collective conscience’ of the Indians that a European team defeated their neighbors and claimed Hockey Champions Trophy title. Had Pakistan won the event, it would have been done by an Asian team after a lapse of 20 years and may have marked a renaissance of hockey in Asia!
Bearing verbal abuses from the crowd throughout the semifinal match against India, the young Pakistan hockey team swayed away afterwards during their victory celebrations and profanely gestured towards the crowd. However, the green-shirts shouldn’t have done that, which showed their lack of sportsmen spirit.
But FIH did took action against and even conducted an inquiry. Tournament Director Wiert Doyer, who was asked to carry out an inquiry into the matter, then spoke to the Pakistani camp and said FIH has accepted their apology.
However, Narinder Batra, the President of Hockey India told FIH that if it cannot take action against such gestures then it should hold its international tournaments elsewhere as Indian culture and values doesn’t allow such things. He also threatened to break bilateral ties with Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF).
But someone should tell Batra that Indians should follow its culture and values first then expect others to do that. The crowd’s abusive language was acceptable but not the abusiveness of players, who even later apologized.
The Tournament Director’s initial decision was free of any influence and fair as he was the person, who knew the situation and the context accurately and accepted apology from Team Pakistan Coach Shahnaz Sheikh and added that no further action was required.
In the final against Germany, Indian crowd again abused Pakistan team chanting anti Pakistan slogans. But the players in green were taught how to behave even in hostile conditions and the players did what they were asked for.
During the third place play-off between India and Australia, which the former eventually lost 1-2, an Indian player harshly pushed an Australian defender many times. If Pakistan players were banned for mere gestures for one match, then the Indian player, who physically abused the Australian, should be banned for life!
Even though supported by the Indian crowd to win against Pakistan, a German player made an obscene gesture towards the crowd. Let’s see what FIH has to say about that or rather HI!