Hockey players given Tuesday evening deadline

<img border='0' align='left' title=' ' src=' ' class='caption'> The India hockey players have been given time till Tuesday's evening to rejoin the World Cup preparatory camp or be ready for disciplinary action.

Updated: January 11, 2010 13:30 IST
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New Delhi:

The India hockey players have been given time till Tuesday's evening to rejoin the World Cup preparatory camp or be ready for disciplinary action.

The national team had resumed their strike after some players had shown dissatisfaction over the offer made by the game's interim body, Hockey India.

The Indian team is boycotting the ongoing World Cup preparatory camp to protest the non-payment of players' dues and incentives for their 2009 performance.

The players want all assurances in writing. Players like Prabhjot Singh and Adrian d'Souza have made clear that if Hockey India has to ban them, it will have to ban all 22 as they are united on this demand.

"We will not attend training camp till all issues are resolved, it is a unanimous decision of all 22 players to boycott training. I think this issue will be resolved in a couple of days. I agree it is a crucial tournament, but for any team sport the most important factor is unity and our team is united. You will see this unity till the end," said Prabhjot Singh had said earlier.

The hockey World Cup will be held in New Delhi next month and Ikram Khan, Secretary of the Maharashtra Hockey Association and the Hockey India representative sent to negotiate with the players, had warned that the team needs seven to eight hours of practice every day to be tournament-ready.

"This team is mentally shattered...the coach says a psychologist needs to look at the's a mess", Khan told NDTV. He pointed out that each hour was important.

The players, he said, wanted a graded system of incentives like cricketers have, and added that it was a fair demand. "But it can't be done at gunpoint," he said.

It had taken Hockey India officials four hours to pacify members of the team in the Capital on Saturday. But less than 24 hours later, the entire national team went on strike saying they were "not" satisfied with the assurances made to them.

Cash strapped Hockey India was livid on Sunday. It said it had shared its precarious financial situation with the players who were now just holding it to ransom. "All issues had been discussed. And we had shared with the players all what the actual situation of our finances were," said Ashok Kumar Matoo, president Hockey India.

"If you ask me it is an option. I can use it today, tomorrow or any other day but I don't want this to happen," Mattoo told reporters when asked if suspending the players is an option for Hockey India.

Monday's conciliatory note came in the face of a no-win situation. With the World Cup less than two months away, the biggest loser in the fight between the federation and the players could be Indian Hockey itself.

"If Hockey India does not have the money, maybe some from above needs to appear in the scenario, a higher authority should appear to solve the problem as soon as possible," said Jose Brasa, Coach, Indian Hockey Team.

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