World Series Hockey (WSH) organisers, Nimbus on Thursday claimed that three out of 12 India players, who decided to skip the upcoming mega-event in order to take part in the national camp for Olympic qualifiers, had called up to reconfirm their commitment to the tournament.
"I can confirm that not a single WSH player has communicated in person or email to us regarding their non-availability. In fact, three of these players, who have purportedly "signed" this letter to HI (Hockey India), called us this morning to reconfirm their commitment to playing in the inaugural World Series Hockey," said Yannick Colaco, COO of Nimbus.
Colaco, however, declined to reveal the names of those three players.
"It seems weird that any player who has signed a contract with WSH would choose to send a letter to Hockey India (who have nothing to do with WSH) to withdraw from the event," Colaco told PTI.
"WSH will feature the best Indian hockey players as well as some of the best players from across the world," said Colaco.
The event, to be held from December 17, 2011 to January 22, 2012, is a multi-million dollar tournament, which is an initiative of Nimbus Sport and HI's rival body, Indian Hockey Federation.
Twelve Indian players, including top stars in drag-flick expert Sandeep Singh and defender Sardar Singh, had written a signed letter to HI informing it of their decision to opt out of WSH and make themselves available for the camp in New Delhi to be held around the same time.
Colaco said that the organisers have paid an advance fee of Rs 2.5 crore, out of the total base fees, to all the players who have signed to play in the League.
"The total pool of basic fees, which will be paid to WSH players for the 2010-11 event, will be approximately Rs 16 crore. In addition, there is an incentive based pool of Rs 10 crore for participants of World Series Hockey. Of the base fee, approximately Rs 2.5 crores have already been paid," he informed.
Colaco explained that the dates of WSH had been fixed in such a way that the Indian players would not miss out on their national commitments.
"No Indian citizen should be restrained from representing his country. We have scheduled WSH in such a way so that it does not conflict with international matches of the Indian team," Colaco insisted.
Asked whether there was an exit clause in the agreement signed by the Indian players so that they can pull out of WSH if it clashed with their national duty, Colaco said the players have been told they can give preference to playing for the country if there was a clash of dates with the League.
"We have made it very clear to the players that they are free to play for the country if matches clash with WSH. They will then rejoin WSH after they finish their international matches (if there is a clash)."
"Of course, the question is moot as there have been no internationals planned during the inaugural WSH," he explained.
Colaco also brushed aside threats issued by HI and insisted that no player can be banned by any authority from playing for his country if he takes part in WSH.
"No player can be banned from playing for his country just because he plays for WSH," said Colaco, responding to a query about what WSH would do if the players miss the camp and are banned from playing for the country.
Colaco insisted that WSH would set the benchmark for future hockey events vis-a-vis the quality of television broadcast for viewers and in promoting the game among the children in the country.
"The ingredients in play for World Series Hockey will set the benchmark for future hockey events. From the upgrade of infrastructure to the high quality of TV production and global broadcast, this is the first time a hockey event will be delivered on such a large stage."
"By aggressive marketing and promotion, WSH will make hockey a sport of choice for young kids in India. For the first time ever, Indian hockey players will be able to make a decent living from playing our national sport."