Pakistan sacks Dutch hockey coach

15 Mar 2012


Michel van den Heuvel, was due to keep the job until after the Olympics this summer. -File Photo

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan Thursday sacked their Dutch hockey coach over allegations he broke his contract, a move which could harm their preparations for the London Olympics.

Michel van den Heuvel, was due to keep the job until after the Olympics this summer. But the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) said he had failed to return to duties as scheduled last month and had also signed a deal with a Dutch club, in violation of his contract.

“The executive board of the PHF met here and unanimously agreed that a coach who signed another contract besides having a valid contract with Pakistan is not acceptable,” PHF president Qasim Zia told reporters.

Zia said former captain and Olympian Akhtar Rasool was appointed as the new head coach and team manager, and the PHF will take legal action against Van den Heuvel. But the Dutchman said his contract with the Dutch club starts after the Olympics.

“What I know is that I have a contract with the PHF until the Olympics and expect them to respect the contract,” Van den Heuvel told Pakistani media from his home country on Wednesday.

“The PHF knew very well that I was not going to continue with them after the Olympics and as a professional coach I need a job.”Pakistan, once a major force with three Olympic gold and four world titles, have failed to find their form in the last few years, finishing an all-time low of eighth in the 2008 Beijing Olympics and 12th out of 12 at the 2010 World Cup in India.

However, under Van den Heuvel they won the Asian Games in China two years ago, helping them to qualify for the London Olympics. Rasool, under whom Pakistan won the 1982 World Cup, said he will do his best.

“I have taken this post as a challenge and will do my best to regain the lost glory,” he said.