Hours after the Indian Express published a report that Sjoerd Marijne, who had coached the women’s hockey team at the Tokyo Olympics, is yet to be paid his final salary by the Sports Authority of India and a cash reward promised by UP, the sport’s national body accused the Dutchman of “data theft” — and threatened to take action against him for not returning a laptop.
Responding to the report, Hockey India said Marijne’s remarks on his pending salary was a “malicious attempt to paint a dark picture of Indian sports administration” and claimed the coach was owed “only a balance amount of USD 1,800”.
“Due to the non-return of the laptop, Hockey India is unable to issue an NOC and as such believes that the Sports Authority of India is well within their rights to retain the USD 1800,” Hockey India said. “Marijne’s bid to tarnish the Indian sports administration for being asked to return the laptop with the invaluable data is a case in point.”
On Tuesday, without blaming any official or institution, the former India coach had told The Indian Express that he was yet to receive his final salary from the SAI and the Rs 25 lakh reward promised by the UP government. He had said that he was “in constant touch” with those concerned and was “confident” that the issue “will be settled soon”.
On Wednesday, Hockey India secretary general Rajinder Singh said in a press release: “We may point out that not returning the laptop issued to him amounts to data theft since it contains enormous amounts of critical data on the Indian players. We recommend to take necessary penal action against Marijne to facilitate the recovery of the laptop and the data it holds.”
Reacting to the statement, Marijne, who is in the Netherlands, told The Indian Express that he has already initiated the process of sending back the laptop, which had “crashed” in the middle of the Olympics.
“I brought it along with me to get it repaired but that didn’t happen. I am returning the laptop, I have no problem with that. I do not know why they reacted like this but I wish to make it clear that I meant no disrespect to anyone. I enjoyed every moment I spent in India and will always be connected to the country,” Marijne said.
Under Marijne, India finished fourth at the Tokyo Olympics, which was the coach’s last assignment with the team. After the Games, he became the coach of Tilburg, a club in the Netherlands.
SAI is responsible for employing coaches for the national teams across all Olympic sports.
Hockey India said they were “extremely satisfied with the alacrity” with which SAI acted on their proposals and added they had “no reason to believe that any form of red tape exists to hamper the evolution of Indian sport which has in fact gained an upward trajectory”.
Singh termed Marijne’s comments on his outstanding dues as “disappointing”.
“It is disappointing that individuals from certain European countries come to India for lucrative jobs however want to criticise the establishment once they have departed… we have also witnessed recently the response again of certain European countries to the Indian athletes winning the FIH Annual Awards, which does not speak well of them,” he said.
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