Hockey India president Narinder Batra’s allegation that national hockey coach Terry Walsh was involved in financial impropriety to the tune of $ 1,76,000 during his stint with USA Hockey has put a question mark of the continuance of the Australian.
Batra had on Friday raised this allegation with the chairman of the three-member panel — Ajitpal Singh — which had been formed to look into Walsh’s demands as coach. The issue was not taken up on Friday, but on Monday it was raised and has resulted in a fallout between the Hockey India president and the India coach.
Walsh, who has been with the Indian team for over a year, said he was surprised that the issue had cropped up this late in the day.
“In essence, the money Batra is talking about is regarding a contractual issue between USA Hockey and myself,” Walsh said.
Walsh developed the software Sportscode, while working with Sportstec and when USA Hockey hired the performance analysis tool they hired the Australian to work on the software further. However, when Walsh left in 2012, USA Hockey wanted to keep the software, which led to a dispute.
“We made a contract (Walsh and USA Hockey) and the only way they (USA Hockey) could do it was to put money to develop the software. That was because they used it all these years. And then Steve Locke came joined as the CEO in 2010. I signed a similar contract with him. But when I left in 2012, he said ‘we should keep all the software’. I said ‘the software is mine, what you’ve been doing is hiring it’. That’s how it began.”
Batra, however, was adamant that the issue between Walsh and USA Hockey could not be overlooked.
“I had informed the chairman Mr Ajitpal of this issue during the last meeting on Friday. But it was not taken up. Today I put my foot down. I can’t have anyone working with us who has been accused of financial impropriety. I am willing to keep him but first this issue needs to be resolved, otherwise we can’t have him. My fundamentals are very clear. If govt wants to keep a tainted person, I am willing to quit in the morning. Let the government and Terry Walsh take hockey forward I am ready to quit. I will not have any tainted person in Hockey India,” Batra said.
Earlier in the day the three-member committee along with Walsh was scheduled to meet the sports minister in the evening but the coach hinted that the impropriety issue raised by the HI derailed any hopes of a positive conclusion.
“I can’t talk about it because it’s inappropriate for me to do so. But I can tell you that in essence it was a supportive meeting and we were moving in a very good direction. All of sudden, something happened and everything was in disarray. It was after Batra raised these allegations. SAI has bent over backwards to make something happen but it is absolutely weird to me that a new issue has been raised,” Walsh said.
Walsh said he was willing to give out all the clarifications but said that the manner in which the issue was put out painted him in a bad light.
“It doesn’t help, does it? It doesn’t help anyone. It surprises me that he (Batra) would raise this issue without speaking to me first. I have been extremely cautious because of his recent circumstances and I am deeply sorry for that. But I am disappointed with what he has done.”