Robbery at Kalinga? India Slam Poor Umpiring After Hockey WC Exit
Chief coach Harendra Singh has called on the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to ‘improve’ umpiring standards, blaming poor umpiring for India’s exit from the 2018 FIH Men’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneswar on Thursday, 13 December.
India’s bid for a first World Cup semi-final in 43 years was denied by a 2-1 defeat to Netherlands in the quarters, leaving a packed Kalinga Stadium heartbroken and several Indian players in tears.
Arguing that his side had been on the receiving end of poor on-field decisions twice this year, Harendra urged the FIH to review the performance of umpires.
“Can anyone define Amit Rohidas's 10-min yellow card? What about this gentleman (pointing at Manpreet Singh), when he was pushed from behind? Why not a yellow card there? We have lost two major tournaments (Asian Games) this year because of umpiring,” a fuming Harendra added at the post-match press conference.
“Two times we got a card when we hadn't done anything. But when it happened against us, they (umpires) said nothing. They need to improve. We have lost two major tournaments.”
‘What Use in Lodging a Protest?’
The Indian coach and captain, however, refused to lodge a protest against the decisions.
“99.8 percent (of the time) the referral goes in favour of players. The outcome of a protest has never been good in my career. We accept this gracefully. We want neutral umpiring. I except both teams to be treated equally. One wrong decision can ruin your preparation of 4-6 years,” said Harendra.
Captain Manpreet Singh too was utterly disappointed with the outcome, but said there was no point in lodging a protest.
Missed Chances Hurt India?
Harendra accepted that his team were hurt by missed chances in what was an equal contest between the world’s fourth and fifth-ranked teams.
“We had a couple of open chances. We missed, so did Holland. That was because both teams were playing high-tempo game. Sometimes your position is not there, or your stick is not there (in the right place).”
Further criticising the on-field umpires, Harendra said he didn’t think the penalty corner resulting in Netherlands’ winning goal was correctly awarded. “The penalty corner which they got, I don't agree with it,” he said.
Dutch coach Max Caldas, however, disagreed with his Indian counterpart, saying it wasn’t wise to blame umpires after a defeat.
Captain Billy Bakker, too, agreed with his coach’s view on the umpiring issue.
“I think we are pretty happy with the officials. In the end, India were asking for a penalty corner. It doesn't matter if they had the referral. Sometimes in sports things don't go like you want. You have to deal with it.”