The Indian men's hockey team will not take part in the Sultan of Johor Cup in Malaysia for the second year in a row, citing the presence of Pakistan in the event to be held in October.
Hockey India said since Sultan of Johor Cup is an invitational tournament it would continue its stand of not taking part in any series against Pakistan until it tenders an unconditional apology for the 2014 Champions Trophy controversy.
Sultan of Johor Cup, which is to be played between 22-29 October, is an Under-21 tournament and India won the title in 2015. It is not a global event held under the aegis of world governing body FIH or any continental body.
In January this year, HI announced its decision not to play any tournament against Pakistan until they submit an unconditional written apology for “lewd and unprofessional behaviour of the Pakistan team” during the 2014 FIH Champions Trophy held in India.
Two players were handed a one-game ban and reprimanded by FIH after the Pakistan team went on a rampage post their semi-final win against India in Bhubaneswar in December 2014. Showing obscene gestures to the crowd, some players also took off their shirts in celebration.
The matter did not end there. After FIH disqualified them from the Junior World Cup due to incomplete formalities, the Pakistan Hockey Federation had alleged that Hockey India did not want Pakistan to participate in the tournament.
“Though Hockey India and it's players had let go of the hurtful incident in 2014, it was the recent allegations by PHF (during the Junior World Cup) that has resulted in India pulling out of the tournament,” the FIH official statement said.
RP Singh, Hockey India Spokesperson By not fielding the Indian team at the Sultan of Johor Cup, we have stood our ground to not take part in any series against Pakistan until they submit an unconditional apology for what happened in 2014. Since the Sultan of Johor Cup is not a mandatory tournament, Hockey India has decided that it will withdraw from the tournament. We had not brought up the bad behaviour on part of Pakistan during the FIH Champions Trophy in 2014 for a very long time.
"It is actually PHF who bring it up again and levy baseless allegations against Hockey India to hide their own incompetency. It is about time PHF takes responsibility for it's incapability,” he added.