A three-member FIH delegation, led by newly-appointed acting president Seif Ahmed, is expected to visit India on August 15 for an emergency meeting to assess progress made with regards to the adoption of a new Constitution, which is a must to salvage the World Cup, the country is scheduled to host in 2023.
FIH CEO Thierry Weil and Executive Board member Tayyab Ikram, who is also the CEO of Asian Hockey Federation, will be part of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) delegation.
The FIH on Wednesday sought a "detailed timeline" from the court-appointed Committee of Administrators (CoA) on the adoption of amended Constitution and holding of fresh elections of Hockey India. If Hockey India does not adopt a Sports Code-compliant Constitution at the earliest, the country runs the risk of losing the hosting rights of World Cup, scheduled to be held from January 13 to 29.
FIH CEO Weil said they have set a tentative date for the visit and are now awaiting a confirmation from the CoA, which is running the game in the country after the Delhi High Court suspended Hockey India's Executive Board for violation of the National Sports Code.
CoA yet to respond
"We are planning to visit India on August 15 for 2 to 3 days. We will do whatever is required to solve the matter but we are still awaiting a response from the CoA," Weil told PTI from Lausanne in an exclusive interaction.
"It would be a three-member delegation led by acting president Seif Ahmed. We are ready to meet anyone and extend all possible help to sort out the issues." FIH has written thrice to CoA on the matter but has not got any response as yet.
Weil said the FIH is still hopeful of hosting the World Cup in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela but if things don't work out next month, a possible ban on Hockey India is a possibility. "Definitely, there will be penalties coming in on Hockey India for non-delivery of commitments and one of those will be a ban from international hockey. They have signed an agreement for staging the World Cup and they are obliged to deliver on this.
"But we are not thinking on those lines yet, as it will be the athletes who will be the biggest sufferer of any penalty. Plus the hockey-loving Indian fans will be deprived of world-class action. We don't want this," he said.
The FIH is yet to set in motion a 'Plan B' for staging the World Cup and hopes that such situation doesn't arise at all. "We have not started to work on this (alternate venue) because we want the World Cup to be hosted in India. It would be a huge disappointment for the fans," Weil said.
"If things don't work out during our visit and the risk continues, we will have to think of Plan B. It would be a shame if the World Cup doesn't happen in India." Weil reiterated his concerns about the unresponsive behaviour of the three-member CoA, despite the world body's repeated reminders about the early formulation and adoption of HI Constitution and fresh elections, which is a must to host the World Cup.
"That is a big concern for us (CoA not responding). When the High Court passed the order in May we straightaway sent an email, stating that we completely abide by the Hon'ble Court's decision and would do everything possible from our side to help the CoA," he said.
"The court gave 20 weeks to the CoA but for us it was too long and we have expressed our views. We need to have a new Hockey India board in place quickly because it is them who has signed the agreement with us.
"Despite repeated follow-ups with the CoA, we have not received any answer. We have not seen the draft of the Constitution. The new Constitution has to be approved by the FIH as per its statutes. We just want the CoA to speed up things, 20 weeks is not acceptable to us," Weil added.
The Delhi High Court suspended Hockey India's Executive Board and placed it under a CoA on a petition filed by former India player Aslam Sher Khan, who had challenged the Life Membership of Narinder Batra in Hockey India.
The court abolished the Life Membership and Batra ceased to be IOA President since he had contested and won the IOA election on the basis his HI membership. He recently quit as President of FIH also.