The International Hockey Federation (FIH) distanced itself from its president Narinder Batra’s remarks on social media against Pakistan and England. Batra’s outburst came after former India captain Sardar Singh was summoned by Yorkshire police on Monday over allegations of sexual assault made against him by an Indian-origin English hockey player. In his Facebook tirade on Monday morning, Batra called England a safe haven “for all fraudsters who have run away from India” and accused them of working “under pressure of 16 Pakistan origin Members of Parliament (sic; 12 MPs are of Pakistan origin).” The FIH forced Batra to take down the post and said the issue will be “reviewed internally” as per their governance processes.
Batra, who was elected as the first Asian president of the world body last year, said he stood by his comments. “I understand FIH’s position. These are my personal views and I stand by it. Sardar is not there as a tourist. He is a citizen of India representing the country. It is the duty and protocol of the hosts anywhere in the world to inform the (Indian) High Commission and concerned people. Certain protocols have been breached,” Batra told The Indian Express. Sardar was called by Yorkshire police for questioning on Monday at noon, a day after India thrashed Pakistan 7-1 in the Hockey World League Semifinals in London. While the rest of the team had a day off, Sardar and team’s manager-cum-assistant coach Jugraj Singh made a five-hour one-way journey to Leeds.
“I would love to see the reaction of England and world media if in India England players are called to police stations,” Batra wrote. He added: “(sic) Typical British Policy, Divide and Rule, 16 Pakistani Origin MP’s to salvage their humiliation in hockey now decide to demoralise the Team.” The FIH was quick to dismiss Batra’s remarks as his ‘personal views’ and issued an apology.
“The FIH would like to emphasise that these comments were the personal thoughts of Dr Batra and not representative of the views of the FIH,” the world body said.