KARACHI: Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) on Tuesday decided against banning players, who defected to the ‘rebel’ World Series Hockey (WSH) and instead opted to impose heavy fines on them.
Tuesday’s verdict can pave the path for the return of former Pakistan captains Shakeel Abbasi and Rehan Butt – two of the eight players who featured in the unsanctioned WSH season in India earlier this year – in the national team.
It means that the duo, who have been slapped with fines of Rs one million each, can be recalled for this summer’s Olympic Games which gets underway in London on July 27.
However, PHF president Qasim Zia was non-committal about it. “I can’t say anything for sure,” he told ‘The News’ on Tuesday. “I haven’t seen the (PHF disciplinary) committee’s report yet and would be able to comment on it after going through it thoroughly.”
Qasim’s reaction was surprising considering the fact that
PHF had issued a detailed press release a couple of hours before his conversation with ‘The News’.
In its official statement, the PHF announced that after taking due action against Rehan Butt, Waseem Ahmed, Zeeshan Ashraf, Shakeel Abbasi, Imran Warsi, Adnan Maqsood, Tariq Aziz and Mudassar Ali Khan — the eight players who played in WSH — it has decided to impose fines on them.
According to the PHF, these players signed up contracts with Nimbus — the Indian company that owns WSH — in spite of clear warnings that they will face sanctions for links with the unsanctioned league.
“PHF forwarded this case to its disciplinary committee to probe and investigate into the matter and forward recommendations to President PHF,” said the PHF.
The eight players were summoned by the PHF committee headed by Wasay Jalil. Apart from Imran Warsi, Adnan Maqsood and Mudassar Ali Khan, all the other players appeared before the committee on May 7 this year.
“The committee demanded from the players their original contracts with Nimbus and records of first payment received. All of them provided the required record except for Imran Warsi, who is out of country,” said the statement.
During the meeting, the players maintained that they had signed up to play the league before March 31, 2011, much before it was declared illegal by the hockey authorities.
Qasim Zia, the PHF chief, received the committee’s report earlier this week and decided to approve its recommendations.
“Shakeel Abbasi and Rehan Butt have been fined one million rupees each as they preferred money over the PHF and national cause, as both of them were earmarked for the national team, which is preparing to take part in the London Olympics. They not only violated PHF Constitution/FIH bye-laws but have also brought embarrassment to the nation,” said the PHF. “Rest of the players have been fined Rs2.5 lakhs each. If the players do not pay the fine they will be banned to participate for a period of one year.”
The players have been given seven days to appeal against the decision. Most of the players, according to sources, are planning to file their appeals within the next few days.
Rehan Butt, who is fancying his chances to play in the London Games, was happy that the PHF decided against imposing bans.
“It’s good news and now I hope that the PHF president will pardon us completely,” said Butt. “As hockey players we don’t earn much which is why we hope that the fines will be lifted,” added the seasoned striker, who confirmed that he will soon be filing his appeal.