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IHF-Sports Ministry meeting a damp squib

May 12, 2004 17:22 IST

In the wake of the controversy surrounding the omission of Dhanraj Pillay from the probables list for the pre-Olympic hockey camp, the much-hyped meeting between the Indian Hockey Federation and the Sports Ministry on Wednesday turned out to be a damp squib with Sports Minister Vikram Verma saying there was no discussion on selection matters.

"There was no discussion on selection of the team or on any individual player. As such we should not give directions on team selection. This is IHF's work. Today, this was not the issue," the sports minister told reporters in Delhi after the hour-long meeting.

The ministry had earlier asked the IHF for a status report on its selection policy after the controversy over the exclusion of Pillay broke out.

Given the rap the IHF got from the ministry, it was speculated that the federation could be asked to explain its selection policy in the all-important Olympic year.

But Verma denied that the meeting had anything to do with the controversy surrounding the exclusion and subsequent call-up of Pillay to pre-Olympic camp in Germany.

"No it was not for that. The meeting was scheduled much earlier. Only because of the elections we could not do it. We had time today so we decided to meet," he said.

Indian Olympic Association secretary-general Randhir Singh and former Olympians Ashok Kumar and Aslam Sher Khan also attended the meeting.

"The meeting was just called for suggestions and discussions. It's not a big thing and no direction has been given to any one," Verma clarified.

"There was no discussion on selection of the team. The talks were on how to prepare the team for the Olympics. We spoke about training of the players. We have noted the suggestions and would carry on our discussions in future."

Gill also denied that the IHF received any direction from any one on its selection process.

"We discussed about the preparations and what steps we are taking. We got some very good suggestions from all. We always have discussions with the ministry and will continue it in future."

Randhir Singh said the meeting, which was held in "good spirit", was not an attempt to interfere with the working of the IHF.

"This is not an interference in the IHF's functioning. We can also hold discussions with other federations regarding preparation of athletes in the mega event."

Ashok Kumar, son of legendary hockey player Dhyan Chand, said discussions were also held on organising National championships.

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