KARACHI: Five out of the eight players who took part in the unsanctioned Indian league, the World Series Hockey (WSH), appeared before the Pakistan Hockey Federation’s (PHF) disciplinary committee to justify their participation in the lucrative event.
The PHF had refused to allow Pakistan players to take part in the event and had threatened lengthy bans on those who did. However, eight players, including Olympics probables Rehan Butt and Shakeel Abbasi, as well as former captain Zeeshan Ashraf, Waseem Ahmed, Tariq Aziz, Adnan Maqsood, Mudassir Ali and Imran Warsi took part in the WSH.
Warsi and Maqsood are playing in the Russian league while Mudassir, the third player absent from the hearing, claimed to have not received PHF’s notice. The hearing was headed by PHF’s disciplinary committee chief Wasay Jalil who was flanked by committee member Farooq Ahmed while the other three members did not attend.
According to an official privy to the meeting, the players maintained that they were legally bound to play the league since they signed the contract before March 31, 2011 when the event was not banned by the World Hockey Federation (FIH).
“The players requested clearance,” the official told The Express Tribune before adding that the committee was expected to send its recommendations before the team announcement for the Azlan Shah Cup which is scheduled for May 13. “The committee will make its recommendation after taking advice from other members.”
Abbasi wants to play Azlan Shah Cup
Meanwhile, striker Abbasi called for a quick resolution to the situation.
“It will be better if the PHF makes a decision before the team announcement,” he said. “I am focusing on my training and fitness as I want to be part of the Azlan Shah Cup since I’ve not played international hockey for a long time.”
Abbasi added that the hearing was held in a friendly atmosphere and he expressed confidence in getting clearance.
“I am very hopeful of returning to the Pakistan team. After all we did not commit a crime.”
Meanwhile, it has been learnt that the PHF has a soft corner for the players and they might be let off with minor penalties.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 8th, 2012.
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