New Delhi: The multi-million dollar World Series Hockey received a big jolt even before the ball started rolling as top six Indian players, including Sandeep Singh and Sardara Singh, have withdrawn from the league to be held across different cities of the country from December 17.

Nobody should punish players for participating in WSH: Joseph Brasa

Sandeep, Sardara along with goalkeepers Bharat Chetri, PR Sreejesh, forwards Tushar Khandker and Yuvraj Walmiki gave a written undertaking to Hockey India secretary general Narinder Batra on Tuesday, stating that their commitment towards national team is above everything else.

The six players will now join the national camp in Delhi for the Olympic qualifiers scheduled between December 11 and February 12, 2012.

"We are not playing in the World Series Hockey (WSH) event and that we will be attending the national camp in Delhi for the Olympic qualifiers on December 11, 2011 until February 2012. We will be available for selection in the national team for the Olympic qualifiers," stated the letter which was duly signed by all six players and issued as a media release by HI.

"We signed the contract with World Series Hockey under the impression that WSH will not force us to play and ask us to leave for the national camp," added the players, who are presently playing the Champions Challenge I tournament in South Africa.

"We play for our country and that is a matter of honour and pride for us."

The players, however, did not completely rule out their participation in the league and have requested the WSH organisers to postpone the event.

"We appeal to World Series Hockey to postpone their tournament after the qualifiers in the national interest," they said in the letter.

It must be recalled that all these players have taken advance from the organisers.

The WSH organisers, however, said that they have not yet received any communication from the six players in question.

"As of now, we have received no withdrawal. All those who have signed up, including all the Pakistani players will play. We have not heard anything from the six (Indian) players," chief operating officer of Nimbus Sport, Yannick Colaco said.

"In fact, all the players have sent us their sizes and preferences for kits."

Colaco accused Batra of using pressure tactics on Indian players to stop them from taking part in the event.

"HI and Mr Batra have been employing all methods to stop players from playing in WSH. In fact, a player told me that Batra is threatening them to withdraw from WSH or else they can't play for India," he alleged.

"Its unfortunate to see how some people are trying their level best to create an air of uncertainty about the event."

Incidentally, Sardar was supposed to lead the Bhopal franchise in the eight-team event.

As per the player draft conducted earlier this week, Khandekar is in the Bhopal team along with Sardar, while Sreejesh is one of the goal-keepers in the Chandigarh side led by former Pakistan captain Rehan Butt.

Chetri is also a custodian in the Chennai team to be captained by Australian Brent Livermore.

While Sandeep was supposed to play for the Karnataka team led by Arjun Halappa, young Walmiki was picked up by the Mumbai franchise to be skippered by out-of-favour India custodian Adrian D'Souza.

WSH is a multi city franchise-based league promoted jointly by Nimbus Sport and rival Indian Hockey Federation (IHF).

The International Hockey Federation (FIH) had already categorised WSH as an unsanctioned event and warned that any player participating in the league will be barred from representing their country.

In a release issued later, Colaco said Nimbus Sport was "unable to judge whether this supposed letter is a fabrication or an extortion".

"We have heard about a supposed letter that has been purportedly signed by a few players of the Indian team. We find it extremely odd that players would have chosen to 'write' to a third party to withdraw from World Series Hockey, especially since this third party has nothing to do with this historic event. We thus are unable to judge whether this supposed letter is a fabrication or an extortion," Colaco said.

"What we do know for a fact is that NOT A SINGLE WSH player has communicated in person or email to us regarding their non availability for the inaugural edition of World Series Hockey. In fact, we have had repeated confirmation from all our players that they are extremely excited to be a part of this Event which will finally give the sport of hockey its proper due. In addition, WSH players have been in constant touch with their franchise coaches even during the draft process (November 28).

"We look forward to working closely with the all the stakeholders of Indian hockey, including the players, franchisees, coaches and fans, to staging a hugely successful inaugural edition of World Series Hockey," he said.

HI writes to SAI to not give national stadium for WSH

Hockey India (HI) on Tuesday shot a letter to the Sports Authority of India (SAI), requesting them to not give on lease Major Dhyan Chand National Stadium for the controversial World Series Hockey (WSH).

HI contended that the dates of the WSH matches and the national camps for the Olympic qualifiers are clashing and the two events happening at the same venue would result in "mess and indiscipline".

The men`s camp is starting from December 11 and the women`s camp will begin from December 27 while the WSH is scheduled to commence from December 17 at the same venue.

HI secretary general Narinder Batra expressed his concern by writing to SAI secretary Gopal Krishna.

"If the stadium is given to Nimbus to conduct their league at the National Stadium then it would disrupt the training schedule of India`s men`s and women`s team for the Olympic qualifier. There will be total chaos and confusion," he wrote.

Batra also wrote that allowing Nimbus to host the event could also upset the FIH.

"The sports ministry has assured the FIH that it will not support any FIH un-sanctioned event and by this (allowing Nimbus to host WSH at National Stadium) it will be evident that the sports ministry is supporting FIH un-sanctioned event at the cost of training and preparation of the national team for the Olympic qualifier," Batra wrote.

(Agencies)