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Chak De! SRK Comes Out In Support Of Striking Hockey Players

PTI 09 Jan 2010, 15:17:42 IST
PTI

Bollywood star Shah Rukh Khan whose film Chak De India propelled the Indian hockey players to new heights has expressed anguish over the move by Team India players to go on strike demanding pay. 

This is what SRK wrote in Twitter: 

‘feel awful for the indian hockey team. to play for the country...national sport and have to ask for salary. and we complain we dont win gold'

The revolting India hockey players have decided to  boycott the ongoing World Cup preparatory camp in Pune for an indefinite period in protest against non-payment of their dues. 

The players took the unprecedented step to stay away from the camp after Hockey India, the interim body which is governing the game in the country, failed to respond to two of their letters asking the authorities to make the payments. 

"We have decided to boycott the camp indefinitely till we are paid our money. We took such a decision in a meeting of players last night", captain Rajpal Singh told PTI. 

"Earlier we used to be paid after every tournament but it is not the case now. We had reminded the HI officials a few times, but nothing has been done. We will now report to the camp only after we are paid", Rajpal said. 

The players' revolt comes barely a month before the hockey World Cup in New Delhi and is bound to have a bearing on the preparations for the high-profile event scheduled from February 28 to March 13. 

The senior players were annoyed by the delay in payment and had written a letter to Hockey India President A K Mattoo demanding that money be paid within seven days. 

The letter had no mention about the pullout but sources said that the players had actually made up their mind to withdraw from the camp if the payment was not made in a week's time. 

Hockey India (HI) is, however, confident of sorting out the issue and has called some of the senior players for a meeting in New Delhi tomorrow. 

Six of the senior players --captain Rajpal Singh, Sardara Singh, Prabhjot Singh, Sandeep Singh, Tushar Khandekar and Arjun Halappa --will be in Delhi on Saturday for a promotional shoot and are expected to meet the HI officals to sort out the payment issue. 

"I had received their letter two days back. I have mailed my response to them yesterday. I have called them for a meeting when the players come to Delhi tomorrow", HI President A K Mattoo said. 

"I will talk to them and look into the matter to understand what exactly their grievances are. I am confident that we will sort out the problem soon," he said. 

Although the players claimed that they had given HI time till January 8 to resolve the issue, Mattoo said no such deadline was given to them.

"There was no mention of the deadline in the letter. Above all, they are the national hockey players. They should not have threatened us. They can't keep the dagger on my head to make me work. But we are confident about working out a solution when we talk to them", Mattoo said.

In Delhi, the revolting hockey players and the game's administrators held preliminary discussions on Saturday to resolve the payment dispute. The players, who flew down from Pune met Hockey India President A K Mattoo and some other top officials, demanding payment of their dues and increased salaries.

"We have already broken the ice and everything is under control now. The players have some commitment now and they will come back in the evening," Mattoo told reporters after the first round of meeting.

"We will have another round of meeting in the evening and I am confident that the issues will be resolved," he added.

Assistant coach of the team Harendra Singh, who was also present at the meeting, refused to comment on the current crisis.

"We have decided to boycott the camp indefinitely till we are paid our money. We took such a decision in a meeting of players last night", captain Rajpal Singh had said.

The revolt comes barely six weeks before the hockey World Cup in New Delhi and is bound to have a bearing on the preparations for the high-profile event scheduled from February 28 to March 13.

The senior players were annoyed by the delay in payment and had written a letter to Mattoo demanding that money be paid within seven days.

The letter had no mention about the pullout but sources said that the players had actually made up their mind to withdraw from the camp if the payment was not made in a week's time.

Although the players claimed that they had given HI time till January 8 to resolve the issue, Mattoo said no such deadline was given to them. PTI