ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Corruption Charges Re-Emerge as Hockey India Refuse to Learn From History

As corruption charges emerge in Hockey India, what is president Dilip Tirkey's next move?

Updated
Hockey
4 min read
story-hero-img
i
Aa
Aa
Small
Aa
Medium
Aa
Large

There’s a strong possibility of history repeating itself at Hockey India.

Just as things were broadening out, performances across age-groups, especially of the national men’s and women’s team peaking, comes the rotten, decaying, yet familiar smell of corruption.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

This time around yet the scanner has zeroed in on Hockey India’s secretary-general Bhola Nath Singh with allegations that he demanded a bribe of Rs 25 lakhs from Telangana Hockey to allow the state unit to conduct its election. On an institutional level, that can and should be dealt with a slew of laws and court cases.

Telangana Hockey President Saral Talwar in a statement to PTI said: “The elections were due in April, and we were online to conduct it, but an HI official was sabotaging that. HI said there were complaints, and we gave an answer to the committee and finally I met him (Bhola Nath), and he said ‘if you want to get out of it, you have to pay Rs 25 (lakh). It was just me and him in the room.”

Bhola Nath refutes the allegations: “These allegations are completely baseless. I have never taken even 25 paisa from anyone, leave aside Rs 25 lakh.”

As corruption charges emerge in Hockey India, what is president Dilip Tirkey's next move?

General Secretary of Hockey India Bhola Nath Singh (second from right) felicitates Chief Minister Odisha Naveen Patnaik at an event.

(Photo: Hockey India)

But the most damning one that will cast a long-dark shadow is the stance of a few senior officials within Hockey India towards women, especially the women’s team coach Janneke Schopman and HI CEO Elena Norman. Schopman, the women’s coach who Bhola Nath wanted gone after the bronze medal at the Asian Games would have been shown the door if not for HI President and the 2004 Olympic captain Dilip Tirkey’s firm but discreet decision to back his coach.

Right after India lost to China 0-4 in the Asian Games semi-finals, Bhola Nath, told the attending media ‘What is the coach doing’?

The previous body, IHF or later HI President’s and secretaries questioning players and coaches during an ongoing tournament, irrespective of its importance, is a tradition with the hockey body. At the 2014 World Cup, Narinder Batra had reportedly called High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans asking why he wasn’t replacing certain players after India had let in goals in the last minute against England and Belgium. And, of course, the 2002 World Cup in Kuala Lumpur where India made news not because of their performance but sacking their coach Cedric D’Souza midway which was a clear collusion between Jothikumaran and KPS Gill.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD
As corruption charges emerge in Hockey India, what is president Dilip Tirkey's next move?

Former Dutch star Janneke Schopman has been coaching the Indian women's hockey team.

(Photo: PTI)

It was under tremendous pressure that Schopman rallied the Indian team in China to clinch a bronze and then in Bhola Nath’s backyard, Ranchi won seven matches on the trot to win the Asian Champions Trophy.

And now there is the worst kept secret of the Federation - a campaign against HI’s CEO Elena Norman.

Sources say Executive Director Cdr. R.K. Srivastava has asked Hockey India officials to not mark its own CEO Norman on mails and that a diktat has been passed that she not be allowed to attend meetings.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD

Institutional dourness is something one had come to accept from a body like Hockey India. Yet, when a sports federation refuses to learn from history, it’s then that trouble knocks with a double-barrelled shotgun in hand. And right now, it’s pointing at not only the fabric of HI but also at a derailment of the campaign for the 2024 Paris Olympics.

Yet, as Saral Talwar, points out in his interview to the PTI that he has called out HI President Dilip Tirkey writing to him twice but also spoke to him in detail, but nothing has happened since.

Is Tirkey’s silence worrying?

For those who know him since he was captain, he is a man whose silence is usually misunderstood and taken as a sign of weakness. Even during his playing days and then as a captain, his reactions to the team’s performance were always measured, rarely critical and without a song and dance. His standing up for Schopman says a lot about his integrity and understanding of the need to back coaches, especially at a time when he could have given into the media created hype around the defeat to China. For him to think long and hard on appointing Craig Fulton, the men’s coach also shows his acumen in getting the right man for the job when he could have easily appointed an Indian coach and the pressure to do exactly that came in from all quarters. The Indian men’s team won the Asian Games gold picking up their ticket for Paris.

ADVERTISEMENTREMOVE AD
As corruption charges emerge in Hockey India, what is president Dilip Tirkey's next move?

Dilip Tirkey was elected as the new Hockey India president following the exit of Narinder Batra.

(Photo: PTI)

Observers fail to recognise that he already wield’s significant influence. Those who advocate for Tirkey to be more vocal overlook his existing position of authority while his quiet confidence masks his remarkable ability to command attention and respect.

That is why when asked about the ongoing crisis, in a very understated manner he replied: “I am looking into it. We will resolve it.”

Bhola Nath, however, falls back on that tried and trusted, legendary line that most federation officials use when allegedly caught with their hand in the till “when time comes, I will disclose everything. I know who is after all behind these dirty things,” he told PTI.

However, It’s no more a rustle in the woods or a whistle in the distance. With the Women’s Olympic Qualifying coming up and the 2024 Olympics visible on the horizon, the sport is demanding total attention, and this sense of a continuous crisis must end.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Published: 
Speaking truth to power requires allies like you.
Become a Member
Read More
×
×