Pak flays FIH for its `inability` to provide timely visas for Junior Hockey WC

Karachi [Pakistan], Dec.2 : Lashing out at the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for replacing Pakistan with Malaysia in the upcoming Junior Hockey World Cup, Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) secretary Shahbaz Ahmed has blamed the world governing body for its inability to ensure timely visas for the participating teams.

Earlier, the Pakistan Government had granted NOC to the country's Hockey Federation to participate in the tournament.

However, the Indian High Commission kept PHF and players waiting for the visa till Monday, the deadline for PHF to confirm their participation in the tournament beginning December 8 in Uttar Pradesh's capital Lucknow.

As a result, the FIH was forced to officially withdraw Pakistan's name from the event. Reflecting on the same, a dejected Shahbaz categorically said that Pakistan would not send any team to India for any future tournaments.

"The most dejected and disappointed are our junior players who were well prepared for the World Cup but unfortunately the situation forced the PHF to take a strict decision of not sending any team to India for any tournament in future," the Dawn quoted Shahbaz, as saying.

He further insisted that the junior men's team were well prepared for the tournament, but all their efforts went in vain amid FIH's withdrawal and its subsequent invitation to Malaysia.

"The FIH decision is in fact a damaging blow to our hockey, considering the fact that Pakistan has already failed to qualify for the back-to-back big events - 2014 World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games - and these juniors whom we thought would be groomed in such mega events were our main hope," the PHF Secretary added.

Insisting that FIH chief did not have any right to take whimsical decisions, Shahbaz revealed that the PHF would now present its case before the independent board of the hockey's world governing body.

"The PHF will raise the issue at the FIH meetings and though the Hockey India's chief (Batra) is also the president of the FIH, an independent board also exists at the FIH and they will hear our case.

It is not possible for Batra to take decision according to his wishes as it is the matter of world hockey's future," he asserted.

Shahbaz further alleged that India did not want to see Pakistan in their country before adding that even the hotels in their hostile neighbours had written a letter asking the PHF to deposit a non-refundable amount of 40,000 dollars in advance.

Earlier, the FIH, currently headed by India's Dr Narendra Batra, in a statement said, "FIH regrets that Pakistan's men's junior team will not be able to take part in this year's Uttar Pradesh Hockey Junior World Cup even though they had officially qualified." The FIH had also blamed Pakistan for applying visas after the deadline issued.

However, Pakistan claims that it had issued NOCs to the Pakistan Junior team for taking part in the event on November 19.

There were speculations that Pakistan might not tour India in the wake of the escalating tensions between two Asian neighbours on the Line of Control (LoC).

Source: ANI