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AITA to set up committee to address players' concern; refute Somdev's claims

Source: PTI
Last updated on: January 12, 2013 20:08 IST
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Stung by the boycott of top players for the Davis Cup tie, a beleaguered AITA has decided to appoint a special committee to look into the grievances of the rebels even as the standoff showed no signs of ending with the tennis body and the players engaging in a fresh blame game.

- Administration is a problem in Indian sports: Somdev

A day after announcing a highly depleted side to take on South Korea, on Saturday, AITA proposed to form a committee which will go into the matters relating to Davis Cup and arrive at a suitable agreement with the revolting players.

The proposal to appoint the committee was made by AITA President Anil Khanna. It will be formed on February 3 when the national federation proposes to have its next Executive Committee meeting.

The committee will be headed either by a retired judge or a senior retired government officer of equal status and an eminent tennis player.

Before AITA swung into action, Somdev Devvarman, who is leading the revolt, lambasted the body and called it "unprofessional" and "unethical" for snubbing the rebel group.

The AITA had on Friday ignored the eight revolting players, including veteran Mahesh Bhupathi and Rohan Bopanna, and named a second-string Davis Cup squad that will play the Asia/Oceania Group I tie from February 1 to 3.

The move came after the revolting players failed to make themselves available within a set deadline.

"The things that AITA have done last week have been unprofessional and unethical. Players are disappointed," Somdev said from Melbourne.

"I think AITA have made a lot of claims and everything but the truth is we haven't got anything in writing. That is the thing players have asked for, we want that in writing because it would be foolish, given the history of AITA, to go into an agreement based on faith.

"Nothing came in writing, I can guarantee you that. The last e-mail that we received was on January 6 and that had nothing of the things that they said in the press release yesterday. It just goes to show what sort of federation they are," he added.

Somdev said the players have asked for just basic rights and want the AITA to deal with them professionally.

"It is simple, all that players are asking is keep us in light of what is being done. We raised a few concerns and we want to be dealt with professionally.

"What we are asking is basic rights, unfortunately we are not able to communicate that properly to the executive body or selection committee or the AITA in general and it is disappointing," he said.

AITA though refuted Somdev's claim, saying they had spoken to Vishnu Vardhan, Divij Sharan and Sanam Singh about the new offers.

"In respect of Somdev Devvarman's statement that AITA did not communicate with the players, we wish to state that this statement is totally incorrect. We were personally in contact with Vishnu Vardhan till about 11:30 pm on Thursday night," a release said.

"We had categorically informed him that remaining demands of the players have been met but the selection of the coach and captain is the responsibility of the AITA.

"He assured us that he will contact other players, and would get back to us. During the day (10th January 2013) we had met Sanam Singh and informed of the same and requested him to speak to Somdev Devvarman. One of our Committee Members was also in touch with Divij Sharan.

"It is correct that a written letter was not sent, but the concern of Business class fares for all four players for Asia Oceania Davis Cup tie and composition of team of six members was duly communicated.

"We called up Vishnu Vardhan and Sanam Singh on Friday morning (11th January 2013) but our phone went unanswered. AITA waited till 12 Noon for player's response and since no response was received, the Selectors were provided with a list of available players.

"We strongly deny that we have been unprofessional and unethical and believe that players should have made themselves available as was indicated to be a possibility by some players till late Thursday night," the release added.

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