Former players criticise Pakistan Hockey Federation’s cash reward announcement for winning Azlan Shah Cup

Pakistan has entered the final of the Azlan Shah Cup after 13 years and is to take on Japan in the final on Saturday.

Published : May 11, 2024 17:13 IST , Karachi - 3 MINS READ

FILE PHOTO: Pakistan hockey players in action.
FILE PHOTO: Pakistan hockey players in action. | Photo Credit: AP

FILE PHOTO: Pakistan hockey players in action. | Photo Credit: AP

The Pakistan Hockey Federation’s decision to give cash rewards to the members of the national team if it wins the Sultan Azlan Shah Cup has come under sharp criticism from some former internationals, who want the PHF to first clear pending dues of players and salaries of its staff.

Pakistan has entered the final of the Azlan Shah Cup after 13 years and is to take on Japan in the final on Saturday.

PHF secretary Rana Mujahid, an Olympian, announced in Ipoh, Malaysia that if the team wins the title, the federation will make arrangements to honour the side with special cash awards.

“We will also ask the private sector/government to help us give these cash prizes because Pakistan is playing in the final after 13 years,” he said.

His comments, however, drew some caustic remarks from the hockey community, with former Olympians advising Mujahid to first clear the old dues first.

“It is a joke. We all know the dire financial situation of the PHF, which survives on government funding. When you don’t have your own funds, why make promises to the players,” former captain Samiullah said.

The PHF and Pakistan hockey have been in doldrums since last year because of internal politics, leading to the formation of a parallel body in Karachi.

However, the problem was resolved after the federal minister for information and inter-provincial coordination (sports), Ahsan Iqbal called a meeting of both the feuding bodies and settled the matter.

After the meeting, it was announced that Tariq Bugti and Rana would be the president and secretary of the PHF, and they would send the team for the Azlan Shah Cup.

Off the field, Pakistan has failed for the third time to qualify for the Olympic Games and the next World Cup.

More importantly, the PHF employees, till recently, had not been paid salaries for the last five to six months.

The players were also waiting for the PHF to clear their outstanding dues of daily allowances and, in some cases, contract salaries.

“I think it is a good thing Pakistan is playing the final of the Azlan Shah, but we must remain realistic as the event only has one team (New Zealand) from among the top 10 ranked teams by the FIH,” said Olympian Farhat Khan.

But he agreed that playing a final is a big morale boost for Pakistan hockey and the players.

“But, don’t make such announcements because we all know the financial situation of the federation,” he said.

Such has been the hype surrounding Pakistan reaching the final that, on Friday, even the PHF top officials reached Malaysia and took part in a video conference addressed by the information minister.

Punjab’s chief minister Maryam Nawaz has also wished the hockey team best of luck.

It is the 10th time that Pakistan has made it to the final of the competition, having won it thrice.

While Pakistan last won the title in 2003, beating Germany 1-0, it’s previous appearance in the final was back in 2011, losing to Australia 2-3.

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