FIH must learn from bizarre situation

One of the most bizarre moments a person could witness in a sporting arena occurred when the FIH officials took the winner's trophy back in their custody after the completion of the Champions Trophy final.

Australian goalkeeper Tyler Lovell waits with team-mates for the winner's trophy to be presented.   -  Getty Images

One of the most bizarre moments a person could witness in a sporting arena occurred when the International Hockey Federation (FIH) officials took the winner's trophy back in their custody after the completion of the Champions Trophy final between India and Australia in London on Friday night.

Following India's protest against the second goal scored by Australia through Daniel Beale in the penalty shootout, the FIH held up the result and the presentation ceremony, as its technical committee went through the review process.

Players of both sides waited patiently on the pitch and the spectators in the stands to know the outcome. However, that moment never came as a panel of commentators, including internationals Cedric D'Souza, Simon Mason and Austin Smith, wondered why the FIH technical panel took so long to arrive at a decision.

As if that was not enough, after about 45 minutes, the organisers announced that gates of the stadium would close and the spectators must take leave in order to catch the last bus.

As a result, the Champions Trophy, the third major title after the Olympics and the World Cup, concluded at the venue without the trophy being handed over to the winner.

The fiasco invited sharp criticisms. Former India captain Viren Rasquinha tweeted: “19th century processes and bureaucracy of @FIH_Hockey holding back the sport. Can't believe they could not present the trophy (sic).”

“@FIH_Hockey your processes are absolutely ridiculous. It's shocking that you can't make a decision asap. This is #HCT2016 for heavens sake (sic),” he added.

The FIH took a few more hours to reject India's protest and declare the result.

“The FIH would like to express appreciation to the teams, media and fans for their patience and understanding of the need to follow due process in line with the competition regulations. The FIH would particularly like to thank the Indian team for graciously accepting the outcome, and congratulate Australia on claiming their 14th Champions Trophy title,” it said in a statement.

But the international federation could not explain the comical handling of the affairs.

“The FIH must perfect the organisational aspect of holding events. Umpiring has to be top class. Had it been an Olympic qualifying event, then it would have created a huge uproar,” said 1980 Olympics gold medallist M. K. Kaushik.

“Later it was a case of poor management. They could not take a decision then and there even though some top professionals were handling the tournament.”

Kaushik said the FIH must avoid such mistakes in a showpiece event like the Olympics.

“It is not good publicity for the sport, which is struggling to get sponsors. In such situations, the players miss the emotions of receiving the honour in front of the spectators,” he said.