Pakistan hockey team’s Asiad participation in jeopardy

The players threatened to withdraw due to non-payment of daily allowances for past six months, amounting to around Rs 8 lakh per player.

Pakistan has played domestic as well as international tournaments like the Champions trophy during the last 6 months, despite not being paid their daily allowances.   -  AFP

Pakistan hockey team’s participation in the upcoming Asian Games hangs in uncertainty after the players threatened a pullout owing to non-payment of daily allowances for past six months.

The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) said it was pinning its hopes on sponsors and a new government, expected to be led by one of the country’s biggest sporting icons, Imran Khan.

PHF has not paid the national team daily allowances for past six months, the total now amounting to more than Rs 8 lakh per player.

They have played domestic as well as international tournaments like the Champions trophy during this period.

“We have decided that we will not travel to Indonesia if our dues are not paid. Our team has to depart on August 12 and we will wait till 10th. Only then we will decide about our participation,” captain Mohammad Rizwan said. But the players won't boycott training, he said.

“We are training at the national camp in Karachi and will continue. Our preparation is good and we have a good bunch of experienced and young players. You can expect exciting hockey from us,” he said.

The Pakistan hockey team is in Pool B, which includes Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Oman and host Indonesia.

Sitting over the issue for months, the PHF still managed to sound optimistic.

“We have talked to our sponsors and are confident that the issue will be resolved in the coming week. Our players are determined to play and they are not greedy,” said Shahbaz Ahmed, secretary general of PHF and a former captain.

“Sports were not in the priority list of previous government and they have held our grants which is not released yet. We hope that the new government led by former cricket captain Imran Khan will take care of our needs,” he said.

“Imran Khan is a dynamic person and I will personally meet him after his swearing-in as next PM. We will also request for special allocation for hockey in government’s annual budget. Till now, we have been getting supplementary grant, which is like peanuts,” he added.