The Malaysian Kabaddi Federation rubbished accusations that the team participating in the World Cup Kabaddi tournament in Mumbai is made up of "non-kabaddi" players and said the team was invited by the Asian body to take part in the event.
MKF president Sundaresan Ramanathan Chetliar claimed that it has recognition from the Asian Kabaddi Federation, headed by India's Janardhan Singh Gehlot, who is also the president of the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India.
"We have got a letter from the Asian Kabaddi Federation granting recognition to our body. We were asked by the Asian body to send the team for the World Cup," Chetliar said in Mumbai on Saturday.
Chetliar was reacting to a media statement issued by the secretary of a rival body for the sport in Malaysia, the Kabaddi Association of Malaysia.
KAM Secretary S T Arasu claimed in a statement on Saturday that the team participating in the World Cup does not represent Malaysia.
"The team parading as a Malaysian representative does not come from any of our affiliated bodies and we are dead sure that they cannot even produce proper documentation regarding their status as provided by the Malaysian Sports Ministry," Arasu said.
"We regret to note that the organisers are making a mockery of the sport by bringing in a group of non-kabaddi players and masquerading them as the Malaysian team," he claimed.
Chetliar said all the players in the team, including some juniors who have been selected with the aim of giving them exposure, are professional kabaddi players.
"We held selection trials a fortnight ago in Malaysia before picking the team. All the players in the team are professional kabaddi players. They are all holders of Malaysian passports and are citizens of our country," Chetliar said.
Meanwhile, the tournament's organising secretary Jaya Shetty, speaking on behalf of the South Kanara Club, which is conducting the event, said it was an internal matter within the kabaddi framework in Malaysia which might have led to the dispute.
"The Malaysian team's players were provided with visas after Gehlot sent a letter to the Malaysian Embassy in India routed through the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, headed by Natwar Singh," Shetty said.
Shetty also traced the conflict to action taken by Gehlot to disaffiliate the Malaysian body with which Arasu is connected after the Indian team was debarred from taking part in the Asian Championship conducted in that country.
"Gehlot had then informed the Indian Olympic Association and the Sports Ministry when the national team got debarred," Shetty informed.
"We, as organisers, have been told by Gehlot that the Malaysian Kabaddi Federation has been granted affiliation by the Asian body," Shetty added.