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London Tops Hockey Horror List (6/19/2016)
--K. Arumugam
London tops hockey’s horror list

I have seen many horrors in international field hockey. If I start listing them, it will definitely have more numbers than number of hockey Olympians India produced! I have spent a quite few hours in the last two days to glimpse into them so as to arrive at the Top Three of what I title The Hockey’s Horror List. I was prompted to do this exercise after waiting almost an hour in the midnight / wee hours to watch the glimpses of last of the Champions Trophy being handed over to the legitimate winners. It did not happen till I go to bed

HORROR RANK 3: India - England World Cup, Pool match, Madrid 2006:

India struck a goal on the dying moments of half time. The scoreboard read 2-1. Umpire whistled for the goal, and retired to dug out. I happily went for washroom, savoured a Cup of Coffee. On return, on resumption of game, the team and I were horrified to see the score-board reverted to 1-1. Confusion reigned, our women team refused to play. Coach MK Kaushik was furious and was seen arguing. Game did not resume for another 20,25 minutes. Ultimately, nothing was done, India had to accept 1-1 scoreline.

HORROR RANK 2: India – England, Commonwealth Games Final, Manchester 2002:

Its again in women’s hockey. Indian girls beat South Africa 3-4 via golden goal in the quarterfinal, measured up higher ranked New Zealand in the semis. On the other side England, as a rare case, outplayed Australia in the semis. The finals between top ranked England and perennial underdogs India ends in an exciting 2-2. Golden goal rule was applied, meaning whichever team scored the first goal will be the winners. This rule doesn’t exist now. Manjinder Kaur created a PC situation, and with equal cleverness Pritam Siwach and Sanggai Ihembal Chanu earned a PC. Suman Lata took a hard hit, England goalie blocked, but the ball rolled below her and moving towards empty goal, leaving young Mamta Kharab (She is now Assistant Commissioner of Police with Haryan) to tap it for India’s golden goal, celebration started. England lodged a protest, which is normal and entitlement. But it took almost two hours to dispose and give the crown to Indian women.

HORROR RANK 1: India – Australia, Men’s Champions Trophy Final, London, 2016:

India was in the final thanks to two wins and a draw in the final, and then favourable results emanating from matches involving others. Lucky finals one can say, but India grabbed the chances with both hands. It played a measured, methodical and purposeful hockey compared to instinctive and impulsive hockey. Hither to defeat or draw less Australia was contained, and the regulation time ends in 0-0 draw. Now, as per the new regulations, shoot out comes into play. Missing and scoring happened for both sides. However, after Australia won 3-1, the presentation ceremony did not take place. India lodged a protest as per existing rules. It was within rules. But what happened thereafter is horrific. Its almost more than an hour decision was not forthcoming.

What happened instead select players were given their Individual awards. The spectators, who still waited, to witness medal presentation were asked to leave. Stadium was vacated, lights put down. Both teams were taken to indoors where presentation took place!

Champions Trophy is the most valued FIH tournament after Olympics and World Cup, and has history of four decades. It was sponsored by a MNC. Now be said, a political leader or dignitary from Sponsor is invited to give away the Cup. What would have happened?

The FIH will take so much time to dispose of a technical protest?

Say for instance David Cameron, Prime Minister of England, is invited to present the Trophy or MD of Barclays.

Am sure both will ask what is hockey, that is a different matter. Even Gandhi asked the same in the 30s.

Will their protocol allow such a long time waiting the FIH took in the matter.

Will any reputed dignitary present the Trophy inside a closed room?

Ok, what a commercial television channel will do? After showing all the matches Live, it robs viewers and thus its own advertisers, of their right to enjoy winners' joyous Cup moments.

Over all, the FIH has crossed its own negative benchmark standards at London.

Some even suggest the whole process was done so as to prevent any blacklash from hugely Indian supporting crowd.

If it is true, then the organizers have erred in anticipating and making adequate security arrangement.

Over all, its poor handling of things by the FIH that stands out.

It cannot resolve a technical protest in reasonable time. Its seems their referral system and Technical Director and others handling things are either incompetent or rank amateurs.

You cannot allow incompetent people to take hockey to ransom.

It doesn’t behove FIH of its status of a global body, which dreams revolutionizing its sport.

The FIH need to put in place process and systems to avoid horrors of this nature.

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