Fuming over India's stunning loss to China at the Doha Asian Games, hockey icon Dhanraj Pillay on Friday declared that India does not deserve to compete in the Olympics.
Talking to reporters, after a function to felicitate meritorious sportspersons at the Velammal Matriculation Higher Secondary School, in Chennai, he said, "If we cannot beat China, then we do not have the right to compete in the Olympics.
''Olympics is a great event and we should not waste our country's money on it.
''India should at least be among the top six in the Olympics, but that was not the case."
About the bizarre loss to China at the Asian Games that cost India a semi-final berth, Dhanraj, unable to hide his disappointment, said, ''I think in my memory and during my 16-year career we have not lost to China."
For the first time in the history of Indian hockey, India finished fifth in the Asian Games.
A shock 2-3 defeat to China in the preliminary League, followed by a 1-1 draw to Korea in a must-win match put paid to the India's hopes of making it to the semi-finals. Victories against lower-rated teams, including Malaysia in the 4-5 classification match, were no solace for India, who had authored their worst-ever Asian Games performance which followed the 11th place finish at the World Cup in September last year.
He blamed the Indian Hockey Federation for the decline of the game in the country and expressed doubts about India qualifying for the Olympics.
''If this is the kind of attitude the IHF has -- that Dhanraj should not play in PHL -- I doubt whether India will qualify for the Olympics," he observed.
He regretted not being selected for the Maratha Warriors team in the ongoing Premier Hockey League.
''I feel bad. I was not chosen because the Indian Hockey Federation did not want me. The other teams like Bangalore Lions and Sher-e-Jalandhar also wanted me to play for them. But the IHF said no."
The IHF still hasn't said why the wily forward has not been included in any of the teams for the PHL.
"I challenge everyone. I am very much fit. I played in the MCC Murugappa Gold Cup tournament recently. You [the press] all saw it. I am still fit and have a lot of hockey left in me," he added.
Following the abysmal show in Doha, India has to go through the qualifying phase to make it to the Olympics.
Alleging that IHF secretary K Jothikumaran is the one who ruined his career, Dhanraj said, ''But for him [Jothi] I would have played for another two to three years.
'You would have seen it in Athens. I just played for one minute and 48 seconds in the last game due to internal politics. The IHF has not recognised my services," he lamented.
Coming down heavily on the IHF, Dhanraj said, "The IHF should not think they are bigger than the players. Only because of the players is the IHF is functioning, not the other way around.
''In the 1998 Asiad at Bangkok India won the gold under my captaincy because of the teamwork and the players. It's not because of the IHF. The 2003 Asia Cup success was also due to the players and not due to the IHF," he added.
He said it would take at least two to three years to resurrect the sport in the country.
''As long as Mr K P S Gill [IHF president] and Mr Jothikumaran are there, Indian hockey will not come up,"' he charged.