New Delhi: India’s hockey coach Paul van Ass is all set to be formally sacked following his bitter public spat with Hockey Indian President Narinder Batra after a special committee today recommended his removal from the post. The nine-member committee headed by Olympian Harbinder Singh, formed to decide on his future, has recommended that Van Ass, who had claimed that he has been fired following his altercation with Batra, should not be continued.
As per the procedure, it is now for Hockey India to make a formal announcement about the Dutchman’s future with Indian hockey. Van Ass had taken over as the coach from Terry Walsh, incidentally also sacked after a spat with Batra, just five months ago.
A top Hockey India official said President Batra will have discussions with High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans and Sports Authority of India (SAI) officials in the next couple of days before formally announcing Van Ass’ ouster.
Van Ass, on his part, blamed an “autocratic” Batra for his ouster and said the recommendation to remove him did not come as a “surprise” to him. “I knew the decision already. I am not surprised. He (Batra) was just finding ways to fire me and he did it. He should apologise for it (tarnishing my reputation),” Van Ass told PTI from his home in Rotterdam.
“I won’t call him a dictator but he is an autocratic person. How can he single-handedly take all the decisions? How can he single-handedly fire me to please his ego? ,” he said.
The development leaves India without a coach with barely a year to go for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics for which the team has already qualified by virtue of their gold medal in last year’s Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.
The committee’s decision also puts an end to days of uncertainty over the future of the Dutchman, who had gone on record to say that he was willing to come back as coach provided there was no interference.
“We gave our recommendation to Hockey India. Hockey India and Sports Authority of India will now take the final call,” Harbinder said. When prodded further, Harbinder said, “He has not yet submitted his report on Hockey World League semifinals. He is not taking our calls, nor responding to our mails. The tickets were sent to him but he lied he didn’t receive any tickets.”
“Under such circumstances, the committee has worked under the assumption that Paul won’t return. There is no question of him returning. But Hockey India will take the final decision based on our report.”