The Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) has said they will sack women’s team foreign coach Andrew Cook because, according to a senior federation official, he ‘works only for salary and is not passionate about Indian wrestling’. The WFI has alleged that the American coach refused to take part in a Sports Authority of India (SAI) webinar for non-payment of salary. Cook, who termed WFI’s decision as ‘shocking’, argued that he only asked for a change in subject of the session, which SAI ‘declined, making me look defiant I guess.’
Cook, who left for home in Seattle after the national camp was suspended in March after the outbreak of the pandemic, had claimed he had not been paid for the months of March, April and May despite several reminders. Recently, SAI got in touch with Cook to attend one of its online sessions. However, the WFI told the Press Trust of India that Cook responded by saying that ‘unless he receives his pending salary, he won’t attend them’. Cook has refuted the allegations.
“This behaviour is not acceptable. It shows that Cook works only for salary and is not passionate about Indian wrestling. The SAI officials showed us the screenshots of his refusal messages,” WFI assistant secretary Vinod Tomar was quoted as saying by PTI. “After that we told Cook to attend sessions and assured him that his salary will be cleared. He did participate in a few sessions but we did not like his behaviour. We asked our wrestlers if they really need him. The wrestlers told us that he is not indispensable, so we have decided to terminate his services.”
Cook, whose contract was till August 2020 at a salary of $4,500 per month, said SAI and WFI ‘wanted him out’ because he spoke up about his salary issues. “I attended the classes they required. They asked me to speak on athletes’ selection in the USA,” he told The Indian Express. “I only asked to change (the) topic because we don’t select athletes (in USA). They attend school and work through that system. They declined to change, making me look defiant.”
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