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No Ultimatum To Hockey Players, Says Mattoo

Hockey India (HI) President A K Mattoo who arrived in Pune on Tuesday to hold talks with abstaining players, said he had not given any "ultimatum" to them to return to practice sessions at the
PTI January 12, 2010 20:34 IST

Hockey India (HI) President A K Mattoo who arrived in Pune on Tuesday to hold talks with abstaining players, said he had not given any "ultimatum" to them to return to practice sessions at the camp in progress at Balewadi, near Pune.

Mattoo who was scheduled to meet the players after lunch had a talk with the coaches at the sports complex immediately after his arrival this morning.

In a brief interaction with reporters before proceeding for meeting with the players-- who have boycotted practice session protesting non payment of their dues-- Mattoo also said he would do "all that is necessary to meet the national requirements".

Unperturbed by Hockey India's threat to field a fresh team in the World Cup, the defiant members of the national team on Tuesday  ruled out joining the camp unless their demands are met.

Captain Rajpal Singh and senior players Prabhjot Singh, Dipak Thakur, Adrian D'Souza and Arjun Halappa said the HI offer of Rs 25,000 per player would suit a school side and not a national team and the rebel players are mentally prepared to leave the camp in Pune. 

Dismissing HI allegation that the players put money before national honour, Rajpal said, "We came here to practise and not to skip training. And it's not crime if we talk about our rights. 

"Hockey India said they don't have money. In that case, we don't want to increase their burden and all 22 players are ready to fund our own World Cup preparation. But the thing is they have to give us written assurance which they are not ready to do," Rajpal said. 

HI president A K Mattoo had earlier made it clear that since he was heading an ad hoc committee which goes to poll on February 7, he could not commit for future. HI also gave the players 48 hours to join the camp or threatened to field a second string squad. "We will see how that B team fares," one of the players snarled from behind.

Striker Dipak Thakur also claimed that contrary to HI claims, the players were not chasing money. "Nothing comes before nation, not even money. And why is it so that only the players have to think about the nation and not the administrators? 

"We have an important event round the corner and that's why we raised the issue now. Had we raised it earlier, it would have been swept under the carpet," Dipak said, justifying the timing of the revolt. Prabhjot, meanwhile, was furious with the HI offer and said it was humiliating for a national side. 

"For God's sake, this is not a school team that you offer RS 25,000 per player. We expected something more sensible from them.

"They promised us Rs one crore each if we win World Cup and said they would get the money from wherever they can. Why cannot they do the same now and give us the incentives for our podium finishes last year?

"And if they really don't have the money to run the federation, why don't they quit?" asked the forward. 

Goalkeeper Adrian D'Souza was slightly more articulate than his teammates who looked a tad confused and said the players were fine with HI claims that they did not have enough money but was surprised by their reluctance to give any written assurance.

"They said they don't have money. So we demanded a meeting with the sponsor but they were not ready to arrange even that. They called us greedy and here we are ready to fund our own preparation," he said. PTI