So the nine Pakistani players have been told to return and the decision raises more questions then answers as the Hockey India League gets off to a start that they would have wanted to avoid. Far from being the best ever league in the world, it is now remarked as the four and the half countries league or even more sinister is it being called the Australian Development League.
Four Pakistanis, Mahmood Rashid, Fareed Ahmed, Muhammad Tousiq and Imran Butt, were hired by Mumbai. The others were Mohammed Rizwan senior and Mohammed Rizwan junior (Delhi), Kashif Shah (Jalandhar), and Muhammed Irfan and Shafqat Rasool (Ranchi).
Hockey India says that the players had to return due to security issues and seriously i find this baffling. Two incidents have caused me of being skeptical in the first place.
Firstly a meeting was planned to discuss the participation of the Pakistani player, just after the first match between Delhi and Punjab.
And ironically TWO protestors were then seen on the pitch holding messages warning of severe reprecussions with regards to te continued presence of the Pakistani players.
How were the two protestors allowed onto the pitch when the security was so tight, as jounalists too were not allowed to roam to certain areas? One had to show the accreditation card continously to move from one spot to another.
And how is it that they moved directly towards the area where the pixmen were located and ony acted to make their presence felt when play was at the other end?
Another issue is where was the security as the access to that part of the pitch is via a gate and spectators were not even seen near that area of the pitch?
What about what happened to them after the incident? They were brought off the pitch and ejected from the stadium. A rap on the knuckle with no criminal charges being filed?
Reasons being called the four and a half countries league is due to the fact a large number of players come from India, Australia, Holland and Pakistan, with a sprinkling others from Spain, Germany, Malaysia, New Zealand and England.
And why the term the Australian Development League? It all boils down to the fact that the team coaches are from Australia and therefore their preference for players that they are familiar with. Unknowingly or willingly India is paying to develop the Aussues. Have they not learnt from the Indian Premier League in Cricket?
But enough of that as we move towards discussing the issue of the Pakistani players. And none was more vocal then Australian Ric Charlesworth.
"When sport is above prejudice, sport is wonderful. But, when it aligns with prejudice, sport begins to diminish," said the Australian hockey legend told the Indian newspapers.
"I am very disappointed and I'm upset and sorry for what has happened because it diminishes the game. When I was at the age of these boys I was protesting against the apartheid (in South Africa).
If India wants that, this is where it leads," he said bluntly. "It's been my huge protest against this (current) prejudice. A few people show up and make a noise (and the rules change).
But on the subject of the HIL organisation as a whole, the word professionalism should not be associated with it as its far from being professional.
Firstly they could not afford a air horn to signal the end of each quarter, using a whistle that only confused spectators and players alike. And the technical table looked like a fish market with so many officials just standing around.
And the above is the view from the Media Tribune, with the goal area being blocked by light towers used for the laser show for the opening ceremony.
There is no merchandise sold, no replay of action on the pitch on the giant screens being put up, and yes they used yellow balls, on a green pitch with a team using yellow socks. What say you the mecenaries imported to run the HIL?
I seriously though India was an independent country, but looking at how they sold their souls to FIH, I find that India is colonised, at least in hockey