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Champions hockey: Britain also reluctant to play in Pakistan
July 25, 2007 20:59 IST
Pakistan's hopes of hosting the Champions Trophy men's hockey tournament received another jolt on Wednesday as Britain, the replacement team for Australia, is also reluctant to tour the country.
Khalid Mahmood, secretary of the Pakistan Hockey Federation, said according to the world rankings, Great Britain will replace Olympic champions Australia, who on Tuesday pulled out of the elite six-team tournament, scheduled in Lahore [Images] in December, citing security concerns.
"But the problem is that the International Hockey Federation has now indicated to us unofficially that even the Great Britain team is reluctant about playing in Pakistan again because of security fears," he said.
Mahmood said Pakistan has lodged a protest with the FIH over Australia's withdrawal but beyond that there is nothing more it can do.
"We have given all security assurances to the FIH and participating teams. We have been talking to the FIH on this issue for the last few weeks. We are disappointed with Australia's decision because it appears to be premature," he stated.
Australia also did not play in the Champions Trophy the last time it was held in Pakistan in 2004. Media reports have said that Spain might also pull out of the tournament.
The security situation in Pakistan has worsened in the last few days after the government stormed the Red mosque in Islamabad to flush out suspected militants.
Mahmood said the PHF has no fears that the tournament could be shifted from Lahore to some other place if more teams refuse to play in Pakistan because of security concerns.