November 20 - International Hockey Federation (FIH) President Leandro Negre (pictured) insisted today that Hockey India must hold elections before New Delhi is due to stage the World Cup next year.
Negre, who is here to finalise sponsorship for the tournament with the Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL), warned that there could be no further postponement of the election.
He said: "Yes, there are some concerns, but we must not forget that India is a big country with so many states.
"Also, the wheels of bureaucracy turn slowly."
The election was to be held November 18, but it was put off until the end of January after some State associations questioned the process of affiliation.
Hockey India secretary general Mohammad Aslam Khan has resigned, blaming the delay on members of the panel set-up for overseeing the affiliation process.
Ever since the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) superseded the Indian Hockey Federation and formed an ad-hoc committee to run the sport in April 2008, more than one attempt has been made to put an elected body in place.
In May, the IOA laid the foundation for Hockey India, disbanding all the men and women’s state units after FIH made a unified, elected federation mandatory for hosting the 2010 World Cup.
Negre maintained that there is no change in the FIH stand.
The Spaniard said: "We maintain that a unified, elected federation is a constitutional obligation of the FIH if any country has to organise the World Cup.
"The FIH vice-president Antonio Von Ondarza, who is the observer for the election, has been visiting India and is aware of the problems.
"It was on his advice that the election has been postponed.
"I realise the election will be held very close to the World Cup, but that is not avoidable.
"Looking at the future of Indian hockey, we thought it is necessary to give Hockey India a little more time to hold the election.
"The FIH, Hockey India and the Sports Ministry are working in close coordination to see that the election is held in time.”
Negre said that India's Sports Minister M.S. Gill has assured him that there will be no further delay and expressed his satisfaction at preparations for the World Cup.
He said: "I understand that India’s preparation for the World Cup is going on well.
"They have had some good results recently.
"For the sport, India is an important country."
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