Govt: Pakistani players not welcome for Pro Kabaddi League

"Unless Pakistan gets rid of terrorism, it is impossible to play with Pakistan,” Sports Minister Vijay Goel said.

Pakistani players could be included in the Pro Kabaddi auction, but will not be allowed to play   -  AFP

 

With relations between India and Pakistan continuing to remain tenuous, it was surprising that the Pro Kabaddi League organisers went ahead with including 10 players from the country in its auction for the fifth season of the competition. Not surprisingly, none of the 12 franchises – including the four new teams – bid for any of them.

Sports Minister Vijay Goel did not make things easier by declaring that, “The final decision to permit them to play within Indian territory will rest with the Government of India. Unless Pakistan gets rid of terrorism, it is impossible to play.”

The Indian players, though, insisted that Pakistan's presence would have been more than welcome. “As far as the league is concerned, I think it would be very good if Pakistan players come. Pakistan is a very strong team in kabaddi, we have to admit that. Also, for a predominantly Asian sport, if players from such a strong country are absent, it does affect the overall quality of the competition. The ultimate loss is for us players and the federation. As a sportsperson, I would want them to come here and play with us,” Anup Kumar declared.

While he admitted that bringing the nationalistic debate would change the picture, he preferred to look at it only from a sporting perspective. “Our job is to play and if those players come here, both them and us will feel good. If they don't come, then also we are having a pretty good league. But then, they also need permission from their officials and if they come, it will only help them improve and do better internationally,” he added.

Raider Rahul Chaudhari insisted that league and country were completely different. “As far as the league is concerned, I think players from every country should come and play. League is different and nation is different and I don't think we should mix the two,” he said.

PKL promoter Charu Sharma clarified that while giving visa was the government's prerogative, it would have been unfair to not include Pakistanis in the auction. “If we are talking about the best players in the world, then some of the Pakistanis are among the best, we cannot deny that, and whether they are picked or not, they merit a place in the auction,” he said.

Team Uttar Pradesh representative Hemant Dua did say before the auction that ”anything I say will reveal our strategy.”