Asian Games: Pakistan hockey team announces boycott over pay protest

Pakistan National Hockey Team

The Pakistan national hockey team has threatened to boycott the Asian Games 2018 in Jakarta and Palembang over the non-payment of their daily allowance. The team has warned that they will not travel to Indonesia for the Asian Games, scheduled from 18 August to 2 September.

“The players have not yet received the daily allowance for the training camp held for Champions Trophy,” said national side’s skipper Rizwan Senior. “We won’t participate in the Asian Games if we aren’t given our due daily allowance.”

The national side’s training camp was scheduled in Holland for the Champions Trophy, Pakistan’s Geo news has reported. “It’s not a revolt we are asking for our due right,” Rizwan added.

Senior player Imran Butt said that the team has conveyed their decision to the team management.

Pakistan Hockey Federation President Khalid Sajjad Khokar, in his reaction on the developments, said that there is a conspiracy underway against the national hockey team. “We will clear all dues before going to Asian Games. Unfortunately, our grant was stopped due to certain unknown reason,” he said. “If we don’t get the money, I will pay the players through my own means.” He urged the players to focus on their training.

Khokar requested the players to not give any statement to the media regarding the pay issue.

“We have decided that we will not travel to Indonesia if our dues are not paid. Our team has to depart on August 12 and we will wait till 10th. Then only we will decide about our participation,” Rizwan had told Hindi news wire PTI Bhasha from Karachi. “We are training at the national camp in Karachi and will continue. Our preparation is good and we have a good bunch of experienced and young players. You can expect exciting hockey from us,” he said.

The Pakistan hockey team is in Pool B, which include Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Oman and host Indonesia.

Stakeholders are, however, optimistic that the country’s new premier Imran Khan will intervene to resolve the issue. “We have talked to our sponsors and are confident that the issue will be resolved in the coming week. Our players are determined to play and they are not greedy,” said Shahbaz Ahmed, secretary general of PHF and a former captain.

“Sports were not in the priority list of previous government and they have held our grants which is not released yet. We hope that the new government led by former cricket captain Imran Khan will take care of our needs,” he said.

“Imran Khan is a dynamic person and I will personally meet him after his swearing-in as next PM. We will also request for a special allocation for hockey in government’s annual budget. Till now, we have been getting a supplementary grant, which is like peanut,” he added.