New Delhi: International Hockey Federation has received an assurance from sports minister Ajay Maken that he will intervene in Indian Hockey Confederation's (IHC) threat to block sponsorship payment of USD 486,000 by the 2010 World Cup organisers, according to a top FIH official.
The confederation, which claims to have signed the original document with the FIH relating to the hosting of the event, is reported to be alleging breach of contract and an intended violation of the Foreign Exchange Act to justify blocking the payment.
Kelly Fairweather, chief executive of the FIH, told Sportcal, the business site for sport, "They (the confederation) don't have any status. They were suspended back in 2008, so that's now almost three years ago. I was as surprised as anybody to see this. We were given a commitment by the minister that the money relating to the World Cup, which has been outstanding for some time, would be paid back."
"This is a last-ditch attempt by the IHC to throw a spanner in the works. We didn't think it was an issue, we thought it was just a question of getting it cleared. We had a commitment from the sports minister this week," he added.
The move by the confederation, a body that represented the men's and women's hockey federations in India, followed a controversial decision earlier this week by the FIH to strip India of the Champions Trophy and award it to Auckland in New Zealand instead.
The FIH's decision came in response to a long-running power struggle between Hockey India and the Indian Hockey Federation, two bodies purporting to govern the sport in India.
The IHF formerly made up part of the Indian Hockey Confederation.
The FIH recognises Hockey India (HI) as the governing body for hockey in India, having not recognised the IHF since 2000.
In July this year, the FIH rejected a proposed temporary 'settlement' of the dispute between HI and the IHF, brokered by the sports ministry, which, it said, ignored the requirement in the Olympic Charter and the FIH's own statutes that there should be a single governing body for a sport in each country.
Fairweather on Friday insisted that the FIH was not against some members of the IHF being "co-opted" into HI, but that a joint committee, as proposed in July, was not acceptable.
"We have always been very clear that we want one national federation. We recognise Hockey India but we're open to some arrangement which co-opts some members of the IHF. If it is accepted by them (Hockey India), we're not against that. We had a meeting two days ago with the IOA and they're of the same view.
"In terms of the IHF, it was dissolved in 2000. For us it's a clear scenario, but we're not against a solution that is in the interests of hockey, but under the umbrella of HI.
"What the ministry proposed was a joint committee. If you still have two bodies, but a joint committee, it only serves to further confuse matters. From our perspective and from that of our statutes, it's not acceptable," said Fairweather.
India remains under threat of being stripped of an Olympic qualification tournament in February next year and if that happens, it would be a serious blow to the national team because of the loss of home advantage.
"As for the Olympic qualifiers, we made it very clear that a joint settlement is not acceptable. I'm hopeful that this (withdrawing the Champions Trophy from India) will help bring the matter to a head. It's been going on for three years. The last thing we want to do is withdraw the qualifiers as well, but we're putting the ball in their court. It's not something we'd like to do. We really want to avoid that."