CHENNAI: INDIA could be in serious danger of being stripped off the right to host the 2023 FIH men's World Cup. The fate of the quadrennial event, set to be co-hosted by Rourkela and Bhubaneswar from January 13, 2023, could hinge on a planned meeting between an FIH delegation and India's stakeholders, including the central government.
Things came to a head on Wednesday after the International Hockey Federation (FIH) sent out a third communique to the Delhi High Court-appointed CoA since May. In this latest communique, the FIH raised 'concerns' about the hosting of the World Cup because of the unresolved issues apropos amending the HI Constitution as well as conducting elections which could pave the way for functioning HI board.
"We feel ignored, we feel like they are not listening to us." Thierry Weil, the chief executive officer of the world governing body, felt compelled to hit out at the CoA on Wednesday at their glacial pace of working. In a serious charge, he accused the CoA of not replying to any of the three communiques the world body had sent them since May.
"There was an FIH executive board meeting today," he said. "In it, it was decided to send them another letter because we have not received even a single notification from them. We feel ignored. That's why we decided to send that letter today."
"The crucial thing will be a meeting in India next month," Weil said. "If in that meeting we do not get what we expect in terms of timelines for drafting the constitution and conducting elections, then we will need to seriously look at other options." In the letter sent to the CoA on Wednesday, FIH raised the prospect of even meeting with 'the government of India' to assess the ongoing situation. While that meeting in India next month could decide the fate of the upcoming World Cup, Weil refused to put a definitive deadline. "No timeframe, we strongly want to have this World Cup but this can't be at any price," he said.
Why is it so important for the CoA to amend the Constitution as well as conduct elections? Because of the World Cup contract. "What's crystal clear is that this World Cup was given to Hockey India and that it will be conducted in Odisha," he said.
"Binding legal agreement is with HI so we cannot progress unless we have an elected HI board. We have daily communication with HI, we need a functioning board that will be liable to us. For liability reasons, we need an HI board." If these issues aren't resolved quickly, the problems will compound. Not just in relation to holding the World Cup but the long-term futures of all national hockey teams. "A ban will punish and penalise athletes. We don't want to do that. (but) every single thing is related to a matter of time. If it takes too long, we will have a complicated situation."