New Delhi: The AITA on Sunday formed a three-member committee, including Justice Deepak Verma and former Davis Cupper Naresh Kumar, to resolve the issues with the rebel players, but its suggestions apparently would not be binding on the national tennis federation.
Apart from Verma, a former justice of Supreme court, and Kumar, the committee has retired bureaucrat M C Gupta as the third member. The decision to appoint the committee was taken at the All India Tennis Association Executive Committee meeting here.
The committee will discuss the issues with the rebel players and before giving a final report within four months, it will file an interim report so that top players could be brought back for the next tie, slated for April 5-7 in India. Asked what was the need of forming the committee when the players just wanted an assurance in writing, AITA CEO Hironmoy Chatterjee said they wanted a certain process to the end.
"This policy of blackmailing has been going on for long. The availability came with pre-conditions and we do not appreciate that. We want to stop it. It is a neutral committee and I am hopeful that the suggestions it would make would be acceptable to both the parties," Chatterjee said. "It's a step forward, pre-conditions are not welcome. Hopefully, they (players) will not challenge this committee."
Asked if the suggestions of the committee would be binding on AITA, Chatterjee said, "I am not saying that". Since AITA will give terms and references to the committee, it was asked how then the committee can be branded as neutral, to which Chatterjee said since none of the committee members are associated with AITA in any way, it was neutral.
When pointed out that if the committee makes suggestions which the AITA does not like, the CEO said he was hopeful that it will not come up with anything which will be "unacceptable to anyone". If the players refrain from accepting the committee's suggestions or even refuse to talk, the status quo will remain on the issue. The players are expected to respond to the formation of the committee on Monday.
Chatterjee made it clear that if the players don't accept the final decision, then "they will have to sit out". The committee, which will have its first meeting on February 22, will not delve into issues concerning selection of support staffs, but can talk to the players on the matter.
AITA had agreed to most of the demands of the players, giving them business class airfares and increasing their share in Davis Cup prize money, but put its foot down on selection matters. The players had demanded that captain S P Misra, coach Nandan Bal and physiotherapist Sanjay Singh, doctor Vece Paes be changed. AITA had agreed but said the players cannot impose their choice as selection was prerogative of the federation.
AITA had removed Bal, Paes and Singh, but stuck with Misra for at least the Korea tie. The executive committee has not yet decided if Misra will continue although it was said that he will be given a befitting farewell. The committee has approved the name of Dr Paes as AITA's medical advisor for the implementation of the Sports Science programme in the Capital.
It appreciated the services rendered by Bal and Singh to the Davis Cup team. The AITA also claimed that the issue with the Tamil Nadu Tennis Association, which had questioned the national body's governance method, "has been resolved". Chatterjee though, did not elaborate.
TNTA vice-president, Karti Chidambaram, had sided with the rebel players and had written to the Sports Ministry, asking it to intervene and help resolve the crisis.