New Delhi: The Indian men's hockey team has pulled out of the upcoming Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Ipoh, Malaysia, over a disagreement on the cost of airfare between the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and Hockey India (HI).
In a press release circulated by HI on Tuesday, the sport's governing body said the team has been "forced to withdraw" from the March 9-17 tournament after SAI refused to take care of the airfare, which it normally does.
"The only obligation to the government for this tour was to cover airfare cost of the team, but in the sanction given by SAI, it is clearly mentioned that the government is not covering any cost. Therefore, Hockey India has been forced to withdraw its participation from the tournament. Government has always covered the airfare of the team for this tournament till date," the release said.
Danish Mujtaba was to captain the 18-man squad after Hockey India decided to rest its regular skipper Sardar Singh. The preparatory camp for the tournament is currently on in Delhi, but will now have to be called off, the release further said.
India have never missed the prestigious tournament in Malaysia, having won the title on five occasions. In the last edition played in 2012, India finished third.
Will this affect India's preparation for the Commonwealth Games next year?