NEW DELHI: The Indian men’s hockey team will not take part in the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia for the second year in a row, citing the presence of Pakistan in the event to be held in October.
Hockey India said since Sultan of Johor Cup is an invitational tournament it would continue its stand of not taking part in any series against Pakistan until it tenders an unconditional apology for the 2014 Champions Trophy controversy.
Sultan of Johor Cup is an Under-21 tournament and India won the title in 2015. It is not a global event held under the aegis of world governing body FIH or any continental body.
In January, HI announced its decision not to play any tournament against Pakistan until they submit an unconditional written apology for lewd and unprofessional behaviour of the Pakistan team during the FIH Champions Trophy in India in 2014.
The matter did not end there. Ahead of the 2016 Junior World Cup in Lucknow, Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) alleged that India did not want Pakistan to take part in the tournament. India had outrightly rejected the claim. Eventually, Pakistan did not take part in the Junior World Cup.
“Though Hockey India and its players had let go of the hurtful incident in 2014, it was the recent allegations by PHF (during the Junior World Cup) that has resulted in India pulling out of this tournament.
“By not fielding the Indian team at the Sultan of Johor Cup, we have stood our ground to not take part in any series against Pakistan until they submit an unconditional apology for what happened in 2014,” said Hockey India spokesperson RP Singh.
“Since the Sultan of Johor Cup is not a mandatory tournament, Hockey India has decided that it will withdraw from the tournament. We had not brought up the bad behaviour on part of Pakistan during the FIH Champions Trophy in 2014 for a very long time.
“It is actually PHF who bring it up again and levy baseless allegations against Hockey India to hide their own incompetency. It is about time PHF takes responsibility for it’s incapability,” he added.