ISLAMABAD - Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has reached an agreement with the International Hockey Federation (FIH) according to which the former Olympic and World champions have been allowed to compete for a place in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

At the same time, the heavy fine imposed on Pakistan for pulling out of FIH Pro League has been reduced to considerable level, said PHF spokesman here on Wednesday. “Argentina and Holland have withdrawn their compensation case against Pakistan reducing the total amount of the fine to 25 percent,” he said.

“Furthermore, the FIH has also allowed Pakistan Hockey Federation (FIH) to invest the rest of half amount of the fine on grassroots hockey development in Pakistan and share the progress with Asian Hockey Federation (AHF),” he added.

The rest of the half fine would be paid to FIH in installments with first installment to be paid on or before August 19, 2019, said the spokesman. Pakistan will have to pay the first installment of fine to compete in the Olympic qualifying matches most probably to be held in September.

“PHF President Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar, who along with FIH legal counsel Majid Bashir, pleaded the case with FIH Disciplinary Commission in Switzerland on Tuesday and thanked FIH CEO Thierry Weil for amicable settlement that would now allow Pakistan not only to compete in Olympic Qualification round but also to investment part of the fine back home on development programmes at grassroots level,” he said.

Talking to The Nation on the development, PHF President Brig (R) Khalid Sajjad Khokhar has said that the FIH has reduced the fine of Euros 190,000 to more than 75 percent. “FIH Disciplinary Committee Chairman Gordon Nurse was kind enough to listen to their side of story and not only lauded Pakistan hockey’s unparallel past, but also appreciated our efforts to resolve the issue and reduced the fine to just 25 percent.

“I along with legal counsel Majid Bashir pleaded the case with FIH Disciplinary Commission in Switzerland. I am grateful to FIH CEO Thierry Weil for amicable settlement that would now allow Pakistan not only to compete in Olympic qualification round but also to utilize investment part of the fine on development programmes at grassroots level. We had lengthy discussions, reached agreement for outside court settlement and all was done amicably,” he added.

Khokhar said: “Now we have to move forward. As I had promised that we will be able to convince FIH as we didn’t hide anything and wrote each and every thing based on ground realities. But in fact, it wasn’t the federation’s fault, as we had brought everything into government’s notice and we were given assurance by the then IPC Secretary Jameel Ahmed of releasing funds, but at eleventh hour, he backed off from his promise and we were left with no other option, but to skip the event.”

The PHF chief said: “I had borrowed money to clear dues of players, officials in recent past, ensure our team must fulfill international commitments. But for how long, one could run federation without financial support. I have requested the government time and again to provide us facilities and don’t give us cash as without investing in hockey, we can never produce even ordinary results.

“We have planned to start hockey at grassroots level, that’s why we formed development squads to play against the Uzbekistan national team. We will provide opportunities to juniors on regular basis, while senior players, who can prove their fitness, will be given another chance to represent the country,” he asserted.

He said that the 65th Air Marshal (Late) Muhammad Nur Khan National Hockey Championship will be played at Abdul Sattar Edhi Hockey Stadium, Karachi from July 23 to August 7. The National Championship will be organised by PHF well according to FIH and PHF rules. I am sure we will be able to detect fresh talent from the championship, which will be invited for training camp for the Olympic qualifiers, as without giving chances to the youngsters, we won’t be able to take Pakistan hockey forward, Khokhar concluded.