‘Pakistani players can’t play in HIL until they behave’

New Delhi, Sep 14 (IANS) Hockey India League (HIL) chairman Narinder Batra on Monday made clear that Pakistani players cannot be a part of the cash-rich event until they behave and show regret for their conduct in the 2014 Champions Trophy held in Bhubaneswar.

Two Pakistani players — Muhammad Tousiq and Ali Amjad — were handed a one-match ban while Shafqat Rasool was reprimanded by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for making obscene gestures after their team’s 4-3 win over hosts India in the Champions Trophy semi-final in December 2014.

Following the final hooter, excited Pakistani players took off their shirts and made rude gestures towards the Indian fans and the media at the packed 7,000-capacity Kalinga Stadium.

Though Pakistan chief coach Shahnaz Sheikh apologised for the incident, according to Batra, it was not enough.

“I would love to have Pakistani players playing in the HIL but not with the kind of behaviour they displayed in the Champions Trophy. The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has shown no regret for that incident. Pakistani players cannot come here and misbehave,” Hockey India (HI) president Batra said at the launch of HIL 2016 here.

“I don’t want to politicise the issue but that kind of behaviour was unacceptable. The current political situation is also not in favour of Pakistani players playing in the HIL.”

The highly talented players from across the border were part of the first edition of HIL in 2013 but had to leave India before the start of the tournament following protests from a few political organisations. Since then no Pakistani has played in the six-team tournament.

The players’ auction will be held here on Thursday ahead of the 2016 edition.

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