CHENNAI: AMID much fanfare, the Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) announced annual central contracts for Indian wrestlers in November 2018. The WFI graded 24 senior grapplers in five categories for the central contracts, which came into effect from November 15, 2018. By doing so, the federation became the first national sports body under the Indian Olympic Association to grant contracts to its athletes.
Unfortunately, after more than one-and-half-years since the announcement and expiry of the contracted period, the graded wrestlers have not been paid their dues fully. Besides, their annual contracts have also not been renewed so far.
The initiative was aided by Sporty Solutionz, WFI’s commercial partner. A total of 144 wrestlers including the juniors were the beneficiaries of the scheme. “I got two cheques so far. The sum of these cheques is half the amount of my contract fee,” one of the country’s leading wrestlers told this daily.
“Ever since I signed the contract in 2018, I didn’t hear anything from the federation on the renewal,” added the wrestler. Placed in the category ‘A’, Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Pooja Dhanda were the top beneficiaries with the annual retainership of Rs 30 lakh each.
Double Olympic medallist Sushil Kumar and Rio bronze medallist Sakshi Malik were in group B with the contractual fee of Rs 20 lakh each. Each wrestler from C, D and E categories was supposed to receive Rs 10 lakh, Rs 5 lakh and Rs 3 lakh respectively. Apart from them, the WFI has placed 120 boys and girls in grades F, G, H and I. In Grade F, the federation has kept all U-23 national-level gold winners and they were supposed to get Rs 1.2 lakh.
“I got less than half the amount so far. I have spoken to other wrestlers also, they too have not received their dues fully,” said one of the woman wrestlers. A few wrestlers also informed that they spoke to the principal sponsors, Tata Motors and were told that the dues have been cleared from their end. The WFI, however, claimed that the wrestlers are getting their contractual fees. “Yes, they are getting the contracted amount. The annual contracts are up for renewal but due to the lockdown, it could not be processed,” Vinod Tomar, WFI’s assistant secretary, said. “The renewal process is delayed due to the pandemic. The contracts would be renewed keeping recent performances in mind,” said a source in the know of things.