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Expert Eye: The REAL VILLAIN is Randhir Singh (3/17/2008)
--Manish Kumar
There is one powerful man standing between Indian hockey's survival. He is none other than Randhir Singh, a former sportsman only in name, more appropriate to describe him as a crafty sports administrator these days. Singh, who hails from Patiala and has been occupying the post of Secretary General of the Indian Olympic Association for more than 20 years, has a long relation with KPS Gill, the former DGP of Punjab and IHF president. It is a well-known fact that only the IOA can take initiatives to dissolve Gill’s moribund federation for the mess in hockey, but Singh is supporting Gill to hold on to his post. Though, the feeling is not shared by the vast majority of the IOA members who want the removal of the autocratic IHF chief.

But, sources says, “Randhir Singh wants to protect Gill for reasons that are unknown to us. Till then, it is difficult for IOA to take up the issue (to dissolve IHF).”

Singh’s proximity to Gill was evident to the agitated IOA members when the secretary-general insisted on conducting a press conference to attack the sports ministry and defend Gill before the media on Friday (March 14). The sources adds, “It was naïve to defend Gill. He is responsible for the present state of hockey. It was madness to defend IHF but Randhir insisted on going ahead with the conference and he started blaming the sports ministry.”

Indian hockey is passing through a testing time and it will be a foolish argument that Gill and Co will change stripe after doing nothing for 14 years to save hockey. If Singh is defending Gill for personal reasons, the IOA secretary is playing with fire.

Actually, Singh has his feet in two camps. He followed the tune of the FIH (international hockey federation) president Els van Breda Vriesman when she suggested Ric Charlesworth’s name for the technical director of Indian hockey. But, Gill did not want Charlesworth to be part of the Indian team and strangely Singh has been supporting this move too.

If Gill is not removed despite playing havoc with hockey, Singh should be held responsible in not performing his duty as the secretary-general of the IOA. It is clearly stated in the International Olympic Committee charter that autonomy of federations does not mean that they cannot be removed on ground of “bad governance”. Does Singh wants more proof of that in Indian hockey?

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