FIH awards controversy: Indian Hockey Federation apologizes to Belgium

The FIH Hockey Stars Award controversy took a new turn on Wednesday with Hockey India (HI) writing a strongly-worded letter to the International Hockey Federation (FIH) apologizing to Hockey Belgium for its criticism after praising Indian players and coaches. demanded.

“We are requesting the FIH CEO Mr. Thierry Weil to either kindly request the Belgian federation to issue an official public apology for the derogatory comments on the achievements of Indian athletes and coaches on social media and if not, to refer the matter to FIH. Refer to the government. Panel for a thorough investigation into what constitutes discrimination/racial discrimination against Indian athletes and coaches,” wrote HI President Gyanandro Ningombam in the letter, accessed by HT.

On 6 October, the hockey world was in turmoil after Indian players and coaches won all eight awards. Several top players made fun of the FIH’s voting system on social media.

World No. 1 and world champion Belgium (they won the gold medal at the Tokyo Olympics while claiming the bronze medal with India) expressed their dismay at the “failure of the voting system” represented by their federation when none of their players had won the Tokyo Olympics. Still didn’t win any award. “This is not normal! The credibility and image of our sport is once again facing tough times. It’s a pity,” said the tweet on the Belgian team’s handle.

The HI statement said: “We believe that the public statement of displeasure at the announcement of the Indian winners is highly insulting and not in the spirit of the sport. Hockey India took a lot of effort from our country to ensure good participation in all categories and now the Indian is feeling publicly punished for the full participation and support of the nominees.

Although the FIH awards were instituted in 1998, India won three of the eight categories for the first time last year.

“It is disappointing that the Belgian federation would prefer to question the voting system and the legitimacy of the Indian winners, rather than actually taking the responsibility of not encouraging more voting and supporting their athletes. The crux of the matter is that these national associations need to introspect from the very beginning to see the true level of their participation and interest, rather than questioning the system now after the results are declared,” wrote Ningombam .

For awards, 50% of the votes come from national associations – represented by captains and coaches, 25% from the media and 25% from fans and players. Significantly, only 79 of the 138 national bodies voted—Africa (11 out of 25), Europe (19 out of 42), Oceania (3 out of 8) and Pan America (17 out of 30). Asia (29 out of 33) had the best percentage.

“It is on the contrary shameful that the European Hockey Federation (EHF) has been silent and not taking responsibility for the lack of proactiveness and seriousness in voting by its member federations, while undermining and disrespecting the results to its athletes and member federations.” Allows to show. Winners. Indian athletes have legitimately won elections yet such negative comments by fellow athletes and national associations have completely dampened the victories. Is it fair that these athletes should be allowed to win? This kind of harassment and mental intimidation is being given?” Ningombam’s statement said.

“The objections on the part of the Belgian federation need to be carefully examined by the FIH Governance Panel, considered by me to be a matter of discrimination/racial discrimination, and how humiliating, mentally painful it is to Indian athletes and coaches.” And it is outrageous. Hockey India cannot allow the efforts and achievements of Indian athletes and coaches to be questioned in this manner.”

There were reports that a vote of a record 300,000 fans—a sizable portion from the Indian subcontinent—could have helped the Indian candidates win, especially in the euphoria after the Olympics. FIH CEO Weil, however, said on Monday that the winners would remain the same without a vote of the fans. He has said that there is a possibility of creating a task force to look into the FIH award system.


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