Sahara steps in with Rs 10 mn to end hockey pay row

MUMBAI: The Sahara Group brought the striking Indian hockey players back into the playing arena just days before the World Cup.

The five-day row over issue of payment has been resolved with team sponsor Sahara‘s announcement of releasing Rs 10 million. Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Suresh Kalmadi also stepped in to resolve the crisis.

Kalmadi rushed to Pune this morning, where the base camp has been organised, after the talks between Hockey India (HI) officials and players failed to break the impasse.
Kalmadi announced his full support to the players and agreed with most of their demands, while Sahara actually bailed the board out by releasing Rs 10 million immediately.

Sahara issued a statement saying, "In the genuine interest of the national hockey players, Sahara India Pariwar has decided to pay immediately Rs 10 million in suspense account to Hockey India, only for distribution to the players so that they can peacefully and happily practice and play for the country."
"Hockey has been our national game. It can never be a national shame. It will be our national pride. The players all feel that they want to bring up Indian hockey. I assured them of full support," Kalmadi told reporters.

He also said that a ‘Players‘ Welfare Development Fund‘ will be created with former Indian captain Dhanraj Pillay in charge.
Sahara had paid Rs 7.7 million in December as advance for the quarter of 15 January to 14 April 2010. "Sahara will go through the past accounts of Hockey India and shall take suitable decision for this amount," the company said.

The 22 probables for World Cup stopped training at the Belawadi Sports Complex in Pune on Friday over pending monies owed to them. The strike was, however, called off on Saturday after six players held a marathon meeting with Indian hockey officials here.

But the truce did not even last for a day after the players decided to resume their strike.

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