Two days after India coach Harendra Singh blamed umpiring errors for his team’s defeat to Netherlands of the ongoing Hockey World Cup in in Bhubaneswar, Odisha, the International Hockey Federation CEO Thierry Weil said that the body will not be reviewing any umpiring decisions while stating that comments like the one made by the Indian coach could be reviewed. Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Weil said, “In sports, there is a winner and a loser. The day you win, you celebrate. The day you lose, you are upset- which I completely understand. But when you lose, you should admit you have lost and look forward to play better. To start to blame others, it is not the hockey style.”
The official further that the comments made against the umpires are unacceptable. “I would just say don’t blame the umpires because they have a tough job. They have to make a decision in seconds. Most of these umpires are volunteers – they are spending their vacations to be here. FIH cannot accept anyone blaming the umpires for their defeat. We will not review any decisions but the comments and blames made against the umpires,” he said.
On being asked if full-time umpires should be roped in like other sports to improve the quality of umpiring, Weil said that the volunteers are full trained and qualified for their job. “When I say it’s voluntary – it does not mean they are not qualified. They are not random people we have selected. They had to be qualified, trained, ranked – people were selected on their level of professionalism. They just do not umpires and have other jobs – and they come during their free time. We do not have funds to maintain full-time umpires. We are depended on the volunteers. But to say they are not as good as any professionals, it is not true,” he said.
After India’s 2-1 defeat in the quarterfinals, coach Singh had blamed the umpires for making errors in decisions during the match. He had further pointed that whenever a decision goes to video referrals, it often goes in favour of the players and not the umpires, signalling a need for improvement.
FIH President Narinder Batra further said that such a stance is especially unfair to the people on the ground. “I think you are being unfair to people on the ground. There are at times when the umpires themselves ask for a video referral. Hockey is not the only sport where video referrals are used. They are now being used in cricket, football, tennis etc. The same situation arises in each of them because the umpire has very limited time to make a decision and it becomes difficult for them to see things happening behind them. They are doing a thankless job. But sports should teach sportsman attitude. Be graceful whether you win or lose. Finding faults in others is very simple,” he said.
Batra further added that he will give his “strong views” on the “misbehaviour” when he returns to Delhi after the end of the tournament.
“I have to follow certain protocols as FIH president for now. But I have very strong views on this kind of misbehaviour. A sport has to be played and respected like a sport. After 17th, I will be in Delhi, and I will share by strong views,” he said.