Hockey India (HI) on Sunday forced the International Hockey Federation (FIH) to review its leniency and suspend two Pakistani players from the Champions Trophy final against Germany for their obscene gestures at the crowd after the visitors beat India 4-3 in a high-voltage semifinal a day earlier.
Besides stridently protesting against FIH tournament director Wiert Doyer’s initial decision to let off the Pakistani team after head coach Shahnaz Sheikh apologised for the players’ behaviour, HI threatened not to host any future FIH events in India.
Following this, FIH reviewed its decision and suspended midfielder Mohammed Tousiq and reserve goalkeeper Ali Amjad for one match with immediate effect. Surprisingly, forward Shafqat Rasool was let off with a reprimand, though he was also found guilty of the same Level 1 offence.
HI president Narinder Kumar Batra softened his stand on hosting FIH events after the suspension.
“It becomes a different matter now that FIH has taken some action,” he told The Hindu. However, the threat of an Indian pullout from a bilateral series with Pakistan stayed.
Mr. Batra had earlier warned that India, due to host the 2016 Junior World Cup and the 2018 men’s World Cup, might not hold any FIH event in future, and would pull out of a proposed series with Pakistan. The Pakistani head coach issued a statement that his players’ behaviour was unacceptable, but Mr. Batra insisted that HI’s stand was unchanged.
“Nothing but a written apology from the PHF president would be acceptable,” he said. On Saturday, the Pakistani players had celebrated wildly after their win, some of them making obscene gestures and provoking angry reactions from the packed stands.