With India hosting the hockey World Cup next year at the Kalinga Stadium here and doubts being raised on Pakistan's participation despite qualifying for the big event, Hockey India CEO Elena Norman on Wednesday took time out to answer questions an a variety of issues that have been facing uncertainty for a while.
Arrival of Pakistan for World Cup
They are welcome here, like any other team. We have got the official sanction from the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the official sanction for conducting the tournament, which includes 16 teams, including Pakistan. We need three clearances, the other two from the Ministry of Home Affairs and the Ministry of External Affairs. We have already got approval from one of them so far, though I cannot remember which one right now, and other one is expected soon. Then it is up to Pakistan. There are requirements like submitting for visas within a certain period and providing all the details, just like all the teams.
Teams complaining about certain areas of the pitch here during the tournament and rumours of the event shifting out to alternate venues
That's rubbish and I have no idea where this is coming from. The World Cup is very much on at Bhubaneswar here. As for the pitch, most of the
team were here for two weeks before the start of the tournament, the India team was also practising here and we didn’t hear anything. If it
were anything serious, it would have definitely been raised.
That said, we all know that this pitch is 3-4 years old, so things do happen, they don’t stay perfect. But this, along with the other pitch, is being changed for the World Cup, along with the cushion, after all the construction work is expected to be over by May next year. That's the plan. By July, we hope we will be ready to launch a whole new stadium so I guess that lays to rest the shifting part as well.
Doubts on the continuation of the Hockey India League
It will (tentatively) be held by the end of 2019 and is on track. We already have confirmed with our broadcasters for that. I don’t think the franchises were complaining but then everyone likes to make money and we still have time to sort that out. HI does need to reconfirm a broad window with the FIH, because leading into 2020, they also have the Olympics qualification events, which will happen before the HIL so that the players are free for HIL. But it will finish the last Sunday before Christmas.
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