Players' revolt over payment issue ends

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src='' class='caption'> The bitter payment dispute between India's national hockey players and the game's administrators was resolved after a marathon meeting

Updated: January 10, 2010 08:52 IST
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New Delhi:

The bitter payment dispute between India's national hockey players and the game's administrators was resolved after a marathon meeting, paving the way for the resumption of the World Cup preparatory camp in Pune which had been stalled because of the row.

Six senior players including captain Rajpal Singh flew down from Pune to hold discussion with the top officials of Hockey India before an amicable solution was reached with both parties "promising to move forward".

Hockey President A K Mattoo told waiting reporters that the dispute is over but declined to elaborate on the financial details of the agreement with the revolting players.

"The issue has been resolved. Hockey India is for the development of hockey in the country. We had a meaningful dialogue and discussion with the players in free and fearless atmosphere," Mattoo said.

"We have understood their issues. They have also understood our problems. We both the parties have decided to move forward because right now World Cup is our first priority. I am confident of a podium finish in the World Cup."

Rajpal also addressed the media and said they are ready to resume practice since all the issues have been resolved.

"We are going in for practice tomorrow. Whatever the problem was, has been solved. Our job is to play on the ground and the administrators' job is to look after all other issues," Rajpal said.

"It was good that we met face to face and discussed the matter in detail. The meeting turned out to be a very positive one," Rajpal added.

The skipper refused to divulge details of what understanding the players had reached with HI, saying it was matter not for public consumption.

"It is between us and Hockey India and I won't comment on it before media."

Mattoo also refused to talk about the issue.

"It is between Hockey India and the players. The financial issues will never come in the way of World Cup. We have taken note of their every suggestion. We will work on them," he said.

The boycott of the players, which had plunged Indian hockey into a fresh crisis yesterday was resolved only after a series of meeting right through the day.

Apart from Rajpal, five other senior players -- Prabhjot, Singh, Sandeep Singh, Arjun Halapaa, Tushar Khandekar and Sardara Singh -- were part of the negotiations with Hockey India who were represented by Mattoo, Harish Sharma, Jagbeer Singh and Rajiv Mehta.

Assistant coach Harendra Singh was also present in the meeting which was stretched to four hours. Rajpal was confident that the payment row will not affect the World Cup preparations.

"No no, it will never affect the morale of the team. The boys are training as a unit and hopefully we will finish on the podium in the World Cup," he said.

Although financial details were not divulged, it is learnt that players have been promised a graded payment structure and also hefty incentives for winning titles in international tournaments.

HI has also assured them of clearing all their dues and may also look into the possibility of increasing remuneration.

The unprecedented boycott of the camp followed Hockey India's failure to resolve the payment dispute despite the players submitting two letters.

The revolt comes barely six weeks before the hockey World Cup in New Delhi scheduled from February 28 to March 13.

The senior players were annoyed by the delay in payment and had written a letter to Mattoo demanding that money be paid within seven days.

Although the players claimed that they had given HI time till January 8 to resolve the issue, Mattoo said no such deadline was given to them.

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