New Delhi: With no solution in sight to the payment dispute that has rocked Indian hockey, team sponsor Sahara on Wednesday decided to release Rs one crore immediately to be distributed only among the striking players in a bid to resolve the crisis.
"In the genuine interest of the national hockey players, Sahara India Pariwar has decided to pay immediately Rs 1 crore in suspense account to Hockey India, only for distribution to the players so that they can peacefully and happily practice and play for the country," Sahara said in a statement.
"Sahara has also paid Rs 77 lakh in December as advance for the quarter of January 15 to April 14, 2010. Sahara will go through the past accounts of Hockey India and shall take suitable decision for this amount," it added.
Indian hockey slumped to one of its worst crises ever when the 22 probables for World Cup stopped training at the Belawadi Sports Complex in Pune on Friday in protest against their pending financial dues and incentives.
The strike was, however, called off on Saturday after six players held a marathon meeting with Hockey India officials in New Delhi.
But the truce didn't even last for a day with the players deciding to resume their strike again from Monday as they were not satisfied with the assurances given by Hockey India.
"The duty of all players is to continue training, and be ready to play the World Cup. After the Tournament, the Ministry of Sports will be in dialogue with the new elected management of Hockey India to find satisfactory solutions. I wish to appeal to the players to immediately join training and continue to do so with full heart till the tournament ends and focus to win it. I am clear that after the tournament, I will do Everything possible, to give the players a fair deal"
The scenario turned ugly on Tuesday when the striking players walked out of negotiations with Hockey India, prompting the angry administrators to serve a fresh 48-hour ultimatum to the campers to resume training or get axed from the World Cup squad.