PHF secretary and legendary Olympian Shahbaz Ahmed said not participating in the league was a "setback" for the Pakistani players as they not only lose an opportunity to improve their game but also earn well. However Pakistan hockey captain Muhammad Imran said that Hockey India's demand for an apology was "childish".

"Their demand for an apology is childish. Because when the incident happened soon afterwards the FIH banned two of our players and rebuked Shafqat Rasool. It also accepted our stance so the matter was over then why dig it up now," Imran said.

Ahmed, on his part, said that there was no need for any strong statements and all issues would be resolved through discussions. "I don't think by giving strong statements any issue can be resolved. It is best the two federations sit down and have talks and try to resolve any issues," the former Pakistan captain said.

Hockey India President Narinder Batra issued a statement on Monday saying:"I would love to have Pakistan players but not with the kind of behaviour they displayed in the Champions Trophy. And they have shown no regret of that incident in writing or otherwise. I don't want to politicize the issue but that kind of behaviour was unacceptable. Least we need an apology from them."

Batra's statement came after it was confirmed that no Pakistani player would feature in the lucrative Hockey India League (HIL) this year.

Batra was referring to the incident that occurred after the semi-final of the last Champions Trophy in December when soon after their 4-3 win, Pakistani players started celebrating their victory in a wild fashion and removed their shirts and some of them making obscene gestures towards the crowd and media, prompting their coach Shahnaz Sheikh to come into action and take away his players.

"There is no doubt that it is a setback for our players as they can not only improve their game but also earn well if allowed to play in the Hockey India League. I think Pakistan and India need to improve their hockey ties by holding talks. We would welcome any move by Hockey India to discuss any issues with us," Shahbaz said.

He pointed out that the Junior World Cup is also due to be held in India next year and he would like to see Pakistan do well in the event.

"My view is clear Pakistan and India need to play bilateral matches as this will not only boost the sport in both countries but also produce brand names in hockey which is way behind when it comes to sponsorships and earnings for players when compared to other sports like cricket in the subcontinent," he added.

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