The International Hockey Federation (FIH) canceled the hosting rights of the Olympic qualification round from the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) on Tuesday, a big loss for Pakistan’s national game.
The qualifying event was scheduled for January of the next year in Lahore.
“The FIH informed the Pakistan Hockey Federation of its decision, citing non-cooperation and government interference in the PHF’s affairs as the primary reasons for the withdrawal.” According to a PHF news release issued on Tuesday, “the FIH has withdrawn [the] hosting rights from Pakistan due to serious concerns.”
“International events necessitate government cooperation and support, which is provided by the government of Pakistan, the Ministry of Inter-Provincial Coordination, and the Pakistan Sports Board.” It is impossible to organise an event like the Olympic Qualifier without the backing of the Government of Pakistan. As a result, the Olympic qualification event in Pakistan has been canceled,” the announcement continued.
“On a global scale, the PHF had secured the hosting rights for the 2024 Olympic Qualifier event, marking their return to such a prestigious event since the 1990 World Cup and the 1994 Champions Trophy.” The PHF has worked hard to prepare for this chance. It is worth mentioning, however, that India has expressed serious qualms over Pakistan’s role as host of the Olympic qualification tournament.
Former FIH president Narendra Batra openly opposed Pakistan’s hosting decision and expressed worries about Lahore’s hockey infrastructure.”
Meanwhile, PHF secretary Haider Hussain expressed disappointment with the FIH decision.
“It is a disappointing decision for Pakistan hockey because we worked hard to secure the event from the FIH.” It [the Olympic qualifying event] could have resurrected international hockey in Pakistan, as well as given the country a better chance of qualifying for the 2024 Paris Olympics,” PHF secretary Haider Hussain told Dawn.
“Yes, India was against the allocation of this event to Pakistan, but who played the negative role of interfering in PHF affairs, which eventually resulted in making India happy?” he said.
“The PHF tried everything to get the Olympic qualifier, and the last date to deposit the FIH fee for this event, which was around Rs15 million, was Aug 31,” the secretary recalled. “However, our bank accounts were seized on August 28 on the advice of the PSB, so we couldn’t pay the FIH dues.”
“The PHF had also successfully concluded negotiations with the Lahore Corps Commander office and DHA Lahore to provide sponsorship for the Olympic qualifying round, for which a signing ceremony was scheduled.”
“However, at this critical juncture, the PHF was forced to participate in a no-confidence motion against me while the FIH was monitoring our infighting, which made a case against the PHF and subsequently led to the FIH withdrawing the [Olympic] qualifying event,” he explained.
Because of the PSB’s approach, Haider believed that the country would soon be robbed of hosting rights for the South Asian Games next year because “the Pakistan Olympic Association (POA) and the PSB in this regard are not on the same page while time is running short.”
According to Haider, the FIH is likely to award India the Olympic qualifying event.
“Whenever there is a positive development in the country’s hockey sector, anti-hockey lobbies launch a campaign to protect their vested interests,” the PHF secretary bemoaned.
On the no-confidence resolution, Haider emphasised that those at the forefront of the campaign against him, such as Akhtar Rasool, Asif Bajwa, Rana Mujahid, and Shahbaz Senior, were not even members of the PHF Congress to vote against him.