None of the Pakistanis featured in the opening match of the Hockey India League (HIL) in New Delhi on Monday and officials said they will not take part in the entire four-week event.
“Due to extraordinary circumstances, it has been decided to send the nine Pakistan players home,” Hockey India chief and the league’s main organiser Narinder Batra told reporters in New Delhi.
“The interests of the players will be protected and they will be paid the full fees due to them. It was a mutual decision between us and the Pakistan Hockey Federation.”
The 34-match HIL, sanctioned by the sport’s world governing body, features top stars from around the world playing for five city-based franchises till February 10.
The cities in the fray are New Delhi, Mumbai, Lucknow, Ranchi and Jalandhar.
Four Pakistanis, Mahmood Rashid, Fareed Ahmed, Muhammad Tousiq and Imran Butt, were hired by Mumbai. The others were Mohammed Rizwan senior and Mohammed Rizwan junior (Delhi), Kashif Shah (Jalandhar), and Muhammed Irfan and Shafqat Rasool (Ranchi).
Trouble began on Sunday in Mumbai when the city’s franchise was forced to cancel its team’s practice session after protests from the right-wing nationalist Shiv Sena party.
Tensions between India and Pakistan were heightened last week by a series of cross-border exchanges in disputed Kashmir in which four soldiers were killed. India says that one of its soldiers was beheaded.—AFP