Sports Minister Ajay Maken threw his weight behind the members of the victorious Asian Champions Trophy hockey team in the cash reward controversy, saying offering Rs 25,000 each for winning the tournament is an "insult" to them, as the amount is meagre.
Maken said the players were right in not accepting the paltry sum and Hockey India should have consulted the ministry before announcing the reward.
"Players were right in not accepting the money. It was a natural reaction and I think any player would have refused to take an amount of Rs 25,000. It was an insult to them," Maken told reporters.
"I felt if Hockey India had consulted with us before giving the players only Rs 25,000 each then we would have asked them to merge that 25,000 with the government's 1.5 lakh and make it a lumpsum amount before handing it over to them," he said.
Maken made it clear that the victorious hockey team members would get Rs 1.5 lakh each under the Government of India scheme.
"I want to clarify there is a government scheme which provides cash awards to medal winners in international events. Under that scheme, all 17 hockey players who were a part of the Asian Champions Trophy are eligible to get the amount of Rs 1.5 lakh each," said Maken.
He also informed that even the coach and other support staff would get some money.
"Under this scheme even the support staff and the coach will also get rewards. The coach gets the 50 per cent of the total amount of the cash award (of a player)."
The minister said the cheques would be prepared in a day or two and handed them over to the players.
"If the hockey team is to win the next World Cup, the reward money would be Rs 5 lakh each, and if it can win the Olympics then the reward is Rs 25 lakh each. And it is only the central government, which is going to give this to them," he said.