The International Hockey Federation (FIH) withdrew the hosting rights of the upcoming Olympic qualifiers from Pakistan on Tuesday, September 12. The event was slated to be organised in Pakistan in January 2024. An ongoing tussle between the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) and the state-governed Pakistan Sports Board has led to such a massive step from hockey's apex international governing body.
PHF made the decision public by taking to 'X' formerly Twitter. PHF wrote, "The International Hockey Federation has withdrawn the hosting of the Olympic qualifier event from Pakistan. FIH communicated this decision to the Pakistan Hockey Federation, citing non-cooperation and interference in the affairs of the PHF as the primary reasons for withdrawal."
The decision can be deemed a setback for PHF as the Olympic qualifiers would have been the first international event that Pakistan would have hosted after more than a decade and had zeroed down on Lahore as the venue for the same.
Some reports claim that several former Olympians, backed by the Pakistan Sports Board are trying to stage a coup in the PHF. There are attempts to get a vote of no confidence passed against the incumbent president Brigadier Khalid Sajjad Khokar and Secretary Haider Hussain.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan team is not having the best of times while competing on the field either. It recently lost the finals of the inaugural Men’s Hockey 5s Asia Cup 2023 in Salalah, Oman. Playing in the summit clash against arch-rivals India, the Green Brigade seemed firmly placed until half-time leading 3-2, but the Men in Blue came back from behind to make it 4-4 before full-time was signalled.
The game went into the final shootout. The pair of Gurjot Singh and Maninder Singh scored for India to put pressure on Pakistan and India's goalkeeper Suraj Karkera displayed unmatched focus and grit in the dying moments of the game to save the scoring attempts from Pakistan's Muhammad Murtaza and Arshad Liaqat.