India players end strike after wage demands are met
THE Indian hockey team have ended their four-day strike and returned to their World Cup training camp after their wages demands were met.
PROBLEM SOLVED: Suresh Kalmadi (l), pictured with Prince Edward, insists the hockey wages dispute as been resolved (Getty Images)
On Tuesday, Hockey India, who had stated they were unable to meet the demands of the players [450,000 rupees or just over £6000 each], issued those players on strike with a 48-hour ultimatum but Indian company and official team sponsor Sahara have since stepped in.
Sahara has immediately given $220,000 [£135,000] to the players, who had stayed away from the training camp since Sunday.
And the players have now returned with Indian Olympic Association president Suresh Kalmadi announcing the situation has been resolved.
"We have sorted out the problem and the camp will start again from Thursday," said Kalmadi.
"The crisis is over. The players have given us a list of demands, and most of them are reasonable.
"Hockey is our national game, it cannot be a national shame. I am grateful for everyone who came forward to resolve the crisis."
Kalmadi said the 22-man squad's demand of 450,000 rupees each for outstanding dues and performance-related bonuses had been accepted.
"We will immediately distribute around ten million rupees [approximately £128,000] to settle the players' dues," he added.
Hockey authorities had previously accused the players of blackmail, and given them an ultimatum to return to the training camp by Thursday.
"Any player who is in the complex has to train but it seems for the players that money is more important than playing for the country," Hockey India president AK Mattoo had said.
"No one has been thrown out of the camp. The players have been given 48 hours time to resume training and if they fail to do so the camp will be shut."
But federal sports minister MS Gill stepped in to appeal to the players to return to the camp ahead of the World Cup, set to get underway in Delhi on February 28.
"I wish to appeal to the players to immediately join training and focus on winning the tournament," he said.
"After the tournament I will do everything possible to give the players a fair deal."
And Deepak Thakur, a senior member of the squad, confirmed the players will resume their World Cup preparations from Thursday.
"Mr Kalmadi has assured us that all our demands will be met and we are taking his word for it," he said.