Karachi: With the FIH Champions Trophy a little more than two weeks away, the Pakistani hockey players are headed for a showdown with their national federation (PHF) over its failure to award them new contracts and non-payment of dues.
A senior player said the final straw came on Wednesday when they were informed that due to the financial crisis, the national team might have to travel by a bus from Lahore to Amritsar via Wagah border for the Champions Trophy, to be held in Bhubaneswar, as the PHF couldn't afford the air fares and other expenses.
"The players have decided enough is enough and we will only go to India for the Champions Trophy on December 3 by air," a Pakistan player told PTI.
He said the players were holding meetings to decide future course of action but they will start wearing black arm bands in the ongoing training camp for the Champions Trophy to convey their feelings to the PHF and government via the media.
The crisis crept up after a reception for the team by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was cancelled at the last moment.
The Prime Minister was due to host a reception for the recent Incheon Asian Games silver medallist and it was expected he would announce a special grant for hockey, which is presently going through its worst financial crisis.
"It is very disappointing that after being told the Prime Minister was going to meet us in Islamabad we learn nothing is happening," another player said.
The Prime Minister is the chief patron of the PHF and hockey remains Pakistan's national game.
Pakistan captain Muhammad Imran said the cancellation or postponement of the PM's reception was a big blow to the players as they were hopeful of a positive outcome from the meeting.
"We wanted to tell the Prime Minister that he needs to save this sport from obliteration in Pakistan as it is dying," he said.