The special committee’s recommendation to remove him as India’s hockey coach did not come as a surprise to Paul van Ass, who said an “autocratic” Hockey India president Narinder Batra was just finding ways to officially sack him after the on field spat in Antwerp.
The nine-member committee headed by Harbinder Singh, formed to decide on his future, recommended that Van Ass, who had claimed that he has been fired following his altercation with Batra, should not be continued.
When contacted, Van Ass rued the weakness of the Indian system and said Batra owes him an apology for tarnishing his reputation. “I knew the decision already. I am not surprised. He (Batra) was just finding ways to fire me and he did it. He should apologise for it (tarnishing my reputation),” Van Ass told PTI from his home in Rotterdam.
“I won’t call him a dictator but he is an autocratic person. How can he single-handedly take all the decisions? How can he single-handedly fire me to please his ego? No one from the Sports Authority of India has tried to contact me. I don’t blame any individual, it is the weakness of the system,” he said.
As per the procedure, it is now for Hockey India to make a formal announcement about Van Ass’ future with Indian hockey. Van Ass had taken over as the coach from Terry Walsh, incidentally also sacked after a spat with Batra, just five months ago.
The development leaves India without a coach with barely a year to go for the Rio Olympics for which the team has already qualified by virtue of their gold medal in last year’s Asian Games.
The committee’s decision also puts an end to days of uncertainty over the future of the Dutchman, who had gone on record to say that he was willing to come back as coach provided there was no interference.
While recommending his removal, the special committee noted that the Dutchman didn’t even bother to submit his report of India’s performance in the World League Semifinal.
But Van Ass argued that he was not bound to submit the report as he was already conveyed about his ouster as India coach.
“That’s not my problem. They (HI) are now questioning me but the they should be honest about the fact that they fired me just one week after the tournament.
“I want to make it clear that I wasn’t required to submit the report, I wasn’t in India because Batra fired me on July 10 and on July 13 I got a mail from Roelant (Oltmans) confirming my sacking,” Vas Ass said.
Asked whether he was disapointed with countrymate Oltmans for not backing him in this entire episode, Van Ass said: “He will support me. Just wait for the right time.”
Van Ass has become the fourth foreign coach to be shown the door unceremoniously ever since Hockey India took over the reins of the game in 2009.
Van Ass’s predecessors Jose Brasa, Michael Nobbs and Terry Walsh — all of whom were hired by Sports Authority of India on the recommendations of HI at hefty salaries — also left the country on an unceremonious note.
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