ISLAMABAD

Former Olympian Shahnaz Sheikh has expressed deep concern at the International Hockey Federation's (FIH) move to scrap the long-standing Champions Trophy and replace it with a new Global Hockey League (GHL).

"It is very sad that the decades old event introduced by us is being done away at a time when interest in the hockey is on the decline all over the world," he said on Monday.

During the recently-concluded Sultan Azlan Shah Cup in Malaysia, FIH president Leandro Negre talked about some drastic changes in the structure of global competitions with the GHL to be introduced in 2019 in place of the Champions Trophy .

This means the Champions Trophy will become a casualty of the new format and will be confined to the history after its 2018 edition that will be held in Amsterdam, Capital of the Netherlands. "Instead of popularizing Champions Trophy and recognizing our efforts for promotion of hockey the FIH is scrapping this prestigious event. The move will not benefit the game of hockey," said Shahnaz, who was vice captain of Pakistan hockey team that won the inaugural edition of the Champions Trophy in 1978 in Lahore.

He recalled that it was the result of efforts of then President of Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) Air Marshal (r) Noor Khan and Secretary Brig (r) MH Atif that the FIH approved Champions Trophy - the toughest international hockey event after the Olympics and World Cup.

Shahnaz believed that the incumbent FIH president was being trapped by people who were jealous of Pakistan and did not want to see its name being taken with respect anywhere in the world.

"Negre is a great man. He has great love for Pakistan hockey. But I fear some people are trying to influence him and making him to announce things which may harm hockey.”

"Pakistan's contributions for hockey are not hidden. We have also the honour to be winner of inaugural editions of all the major events. Our hockey is suffering and we needed a boost to revive that. But such decisions will put a very bad impact on our hockey. The FIH should reconsider its decisions," he maintained.

He said that he was not against the GHL but it should not be held at the expense of Champions Trophy adding that the FIH should arrange maximum tournament to catch the dying interest in hockey. "The GHL should be held as a separate event," he said.

He also urged the PHF management and the Pakistani nation to raise their voice against the move and ask FIH not to abandon Champions Trophy .