NEW DELHI: Field hockey’s governing body on Thursday refused permission for a new multi-million-dollar world series in India modelled on the popular Indian Premier League (IPL) cricket tournament.
The Indian television company Nimbus and the unrecognised Indian Hockey Federation were planning the World Series of Hockey (WSH) to start in November or December this year.
They hoped to attract the world’s top stars to play for cash-rich franchises for hefty sums of money, like the three-season-old IPL Twenty20 event that revolutionised cricket.
The Swiss-based International Hockey Federation (FIH) said it was concerned at reports that players were being contacted by WSH agents and threatened to ban anyone associated with the initiative.
“The FIH does not recognise the World Series of Hockey,” the governing body said in a statement. “Matches in the World Series may conflict with major FIH events, which may compromise an athlete’s participation in their national team’s programme.
“Any player and any association that participates in the World Series may render both ineligible to participate in any FIH tournament, including Olympic qualifying tournaments and the Olympic Games,” the statement added.
The FIH said it was already working towards starting a professional league in India in collaboration with Hockey India, the official body running the sport in the country.
Hockey India was formed in 2008 after the Indian Hockey Federation (IHF), headed previously by decorated police officer K.P.S. Gill, was delisted by the government amid corruption allegations.
But the IHF won a reprieve in court and resumed functioning as a parallel body, even though the world governing body continued to recognise Hockey India alone.
R.K. Shetty, who replaced Gill as IHF president last year, slammed the FIH move and insisted the World Series would go ahead anyway.
“There is no question of backing out,” Shetty told reporters. “The series is being organised for the benefit of players and for the development of hockey.”
Shetty also questioned the FIH decision to recognise Hockey India and not his federation.
“We are the only authorised body to run hockey in the country,” he said.
“The court has recognised us and revived us. Who is the FIH to say they don’t recognise us? It proves they have scant respect for the courts.”
The IPL itself was started by the Indian cricket board in 2008 to counter a rebel Twenty20 league that was begun by another television network, Zee Telefilms, in 2007.
The Indian Cricket League folded after two years.—AFP