International Hockey Federation (FIH) Narinder Batra has waded into the Indian national team crisis, accusing the players of ‘indiscipline and groupism’ during the World Cup last month in Bhubaneswar. Batra labelled the Indian team as ‘complainers, bad and sore losers.’
In an elaborate social media post, Batra also targetted Harendra Singh, who was removed as the men’s team chief coach last week. The former Hockey India president criticised Harendra for making ‘irresponsible’ statements after the team’s 2-1 defeat to the Netherlands in the quarterfinals.
Without naming Harendra, Batra wrote: “(sic) After India lost to Netherlands in the quarterfinals in 2018 Men’s Hockey World Cup in Bhubaneshwar, SOMEONE part of the Indian contingent, immediately claimed after the loss that India lost because India was playing against 13 players and not 11. By saying so, the concerned Gentleman has done the biggest dis-service to the Sport.”
While Harendra did not comment, former India goalkeeper Ashish Ballal reminded Batra of his own comments against the referees after India lost to Australia in the 2016 Champions Trophy final. “People living in glass houses do not throw stones. Your behaviour at London Champions Trophy, complaining against the umpires and forcing the coach and manager to lodge a protest. Was that not a case of sour losers (sic)?,” Ballal said, while commenting on the post.
But Batra’s rant did not stop with Harendra. He went on to criticise forward Akashdeep Singh for making ‘inappropriate remarks at the technical table’ after the match. “…immediately after the end of the quarterfinals match, a senior athlete of Indian team makes inappropriate remarks at technical table and later on in disciplinary hearing gets a justified 2 match suspension. The indiscipline and groupism that has crept within the team and team management needs to end and stop.”
He then turned to the role of goalkeeper PR Sreejesh, whose performance at the World Cup was criticised by Hockey India’s high performance panel. The panel has recommended that India should find alternatives to Sreejesh in the build up to the Tokyo Olympics. Batra echoed their views. “It was quite obvious in the 2018 men’s world cup that the teams which did well, besides other things had good and dependable goalkeeper’s, it’s high time Indian team management also starts focussing on this important aspect,” he wrote.