Hockey India President Gyanendro Ningobam has written to International Hockey Federation telling that Hockey India is disappointed with the reaction shown by some of the national associations on Indian athletes being handed by FIH Hockey Stars Awards.
Earlier, International hockey’s European bloc, led by the Belgium federation, criticised the sport’s global governing body (FIH) and its voting system over the choice of winners for this edition’s FIH annual awards where Indian players swept the top honours across different categories.
Mr Gyanendro Ningobam said in a statement, “I write to you today on behalf of the Hockey India Executive Board that is very disturbed by the reaction of some National Associations and athletes to the announcement of the Indian nominees as the winners of the recently announced FIH Hockey Stars Awards 2021.”
“We believe that the public statements of displeasure at the announcement of the Indian winners is highly disrespectful and not in the spirit of sportsmanship and the sport of Hockey,”said the Hockey India President in his letter.
The Indian athletes and Coaches were nominated by a panel of their peers and are just as deserving of the awards as any of the other nominees. The criteria for the selection of the winners of the awards were clearly shared with all National Associations including Hockey India along with the nominees.
‘Hockey India made great efforts to ensure good participation across all categories from our country and now feel publicly penalised for the full-hearted participation and support of the Indian nominees,” he added.
FIH Hockey Stars’ ceremony handed out awards to Gurjit Kaur (FIH Player of the Year, Women), Harmanpreet Singh (FIH Player of the Year, Men), Savita (FIH Goalkeeper of the Year, Women), PR Sreejesh (FIH Goalkeeper of the Year, Men), Sharmila Devi (FIH Rising Star of the Year, Women) and Vivek Prasad (FIH Rising Star of the Year, Men).
“It is disappointing that the Belgium Federation would prefer to question the voting system and the legitimacy of the Indian winners then actually take responsibility for not encouraging more voting and supporting their athletes in the first place. There is no doubt that any of the nominees would have been suitable winners however the voting system has been clear from the start and those that had put in the effort to vote have made their preferences clear,” wrote Ningobam.
“The core of the matter is that these national associations need to first introspect to see their actual level of participation and interest right from the start instead of now questioning the system once results are announced not in their favour. lt has already been stated by FIH that the Asian continent facilitated by the Asian Hockey Federation was very active in ensuring their “National Associations” vote counted,” he added.
Hockey India President also said that it is quite shameful to see European Hockey Federation sitting quiet and not taking any responsibility for the lack of seriousness in voting.
“lt is shameful in contrast that the European Hockey Federation is sitting quiet and not taking responsibility for the lack of activation and seriousness in voting by that their Member Associations while also allowing their athletes and Member Associations undermine the results and showing disrespect to the winners,” said the Hockey India President.
The Indian athletes have legitimately won the polls, in most cases across all three categories yet the shine of winning has been totally undermined by such negative comments by fellow athletes and National Associations. ls it fair that the hard work and efforts of these athletes are being scrutinised and they are being put through such harassment and mental intimidation because they and their National Association made a full commitment to the market and promote themselves,” he stated further.
Signing off, the Hockey India President stated: “We are with this letter requesting the FtH CEO, Thierry Weil to either kindly request the Belgium Federation to issue an official public apology for the demeaning comments on the achievements of the Indian athletes and coaches on social media and if not then refer this matter to the FIH Governance Panel for a thorough investigation into what is discrimination.”