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Hockey umpires under fire

Anand Philar | January 12, 2004 17:12 IST

South Korean team manager Jae Hong Jeon dubbed the umpiring standards in the ongoing seven-nation Sultan Azlan Shah Cup hockey tournament in Kuala Lumpur as "poor" and called for an immediate overhaul.

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He was irked by South African umpire Stewart Dearing's decision to allow a goal by Christoph Bechmann that gave Germany a 2-1 victory over his team on Sunday.

"I thought that the goal should have been disallowed for obstruction. The German player clearly shielded the ball and should have been penalised. But the umpire allowed him to score and we lost 1-2," said Jeon.

Jeon also hit out at the practice of nominating two European umpires for a match involving an Asian and European side.

"Why don't they have one Asian and one European umpire instead?" Jeon asked.

The manager could barely hide his emotions as he thought the Koreans were "done in" by the umpiring.

"Why must Asia always pay the price for poor umpiring?

"The umpires made two mistakes and that cost us the match. We were disallowed a clean goal, and then the second goal against us was not disallowed," Jeon charged.

Though none of the other coaches or managers were willing to come on record with their views on the umpiring in this tournament, privately they admitted that the interpretation of certain rules, especially those concerning the aerial ball or scoop, varied from umpire to umpire, leading to confusion.

In a tacit endorsement of Jeon's view an official admitted that the umpires had been called for a special briefing to ensure uniformity in decision-making.

"The umpires are being called in for a special briefing and, hopefully, there will be uniformity in interpretations of the rules in future games," the official said.


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