Mumbai: The four Pakistan players in the Hockey India League (HIL) franchise Mumbai Magicians will play no further part in the inaugural season of the lucrative tournament, PTI reported on Tuesday, and that the Pakistan Hockey Federation has been informed about this development. The four players are Rashid Mehmood, Fareed Ahmed, Imran Butt and Mohammad Tauseeq.
CNN-IBN has learned that the decision on the future of the Pakistan players in the HIL has been left to the respective franchises, and that if they wish to replace the players due to the extraordinary circumstances they are free to do so. "If any Pakistan player is replaced his full salary commitment will be honoured," sources told CNN-IBN. "Hockey India will give an option to the franchises to select replacement players. Hockey India has taken this decision in consultation with the international hockey body."
The news came in the wake of strong anti-Pakistan protests in New Delhi and Mumbai following the killing of two Indian soldiers at the LOC earlier this month. On Monday, anti-Pakistan protesters tried to disrupt the inaugural match of the HIL in New Delhi. A couple Hindu Yuwak Sabha members, carrying placards, managed to invade the playing area but were immediately overpowered by the security guards. Earlier on Sunday, Shiv Sainiks and Hindu Yuwak Sabha members gathered outside Mumbai's Churchgate Stadium, where the Mumbai Magicians team was practising.
Mumbai have signed up the maximum number of four Pakistan players in the five-team league while Jaypee Punjab Warriors have only one - Kashif Shah - in their ranks. The other four Pakistani signings for HIL are: Mohammed Rizwan Jr, Mohammed Rizwan Sr (Delhi Wave Riders), Muhammed Irfan and Shafqat Rasool (Ranchi Rhinos). The development has put the participation of nine Pakistani players in the HIL in serious doubts.
Relations between the two countries became tense after two Indian soldiers were killed by Pakistan army at the LOC earlier this month. Some reports indicated that it might be the reason for the delay in providing visas to the Pakistan players. But sources in the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) had said that the delay was due to procedural issues and not due to any change in the process for awarding Indian visas to Pakistani nationals.