FIH milking India to fill up its coffers

New Delhi, Feb. 9 -- Filling up the international hockey federation, FIH, coffers is uppermost on the mind of its president, Leondro Negre, whenever he comes visiting India, or so it seems.

The latest announcement that the Club World Cup will be held in India - and that it will be included in the hockey calendar - is perhaps an affirmation of the fact that the FIH has realised India has the money to spur global hockey even in this global meltdown era.

Encouraged by huge revenue generation during the 2010 World Cup, where, as per the business model, the money from the title sponsor went to the FIH, the international body is readily awarding even low-key events, such as the World Hockey League Rd 2 - featuring minnows Bangladesh and Fiji - to India.

Different model

But even as the FIH goes about flooding India with events, what is intriguing is the fact that it has devised a different business model for the country, which is not applicable in any other nation.

While the FIH charges nominal fee for awarding tournaments to other countries, it demands a lion's share when it comes to India, for the sport enjoys a huge patronage in the country and the sponsors have deep pockets. The reason for holding these tournaments, says Negre, is to promote Indian hockey, but in essence he has seen the success of Hockey India League.

Way back in 2005, when India hosted the Champions Trophy in Chennai, apart from the TV rights, the FIH was paid a marginal fee for allotting the event. FIH had also put up its own sponsors' hoardings at the venue, but the title sponsors remained with the hosts. Asked why the business model had been changed for India, Negre only said, "As per the agreement, the FIH had the right to title sponsor during the 2010 World Cup, and will continue the same way."

On Saturday, Hero Motocorp will ink a contract with the FIH, which will make them the title sponsors of all FIH tournaments in India for four years. And as per the agreement, a major chunk of the money will go to the international body.

A win-win situation for the world body, but what about Hockey India, which derives a major chunk of its resources from the government?

FIH losing funds in litigation

The FIH had recognised HI even before it was registered. As FIH jumped the gun, rival body, Indian Hockey Federation, filed a case against them.

FIH president, Leandro Negre, conceded that the legal battle was draining their coffers. "We are spending a huge amount on the case," Negre said. And the FIH will face more trouble in future as the IHF plans to take the matter to the Court of Arbitration for Sports (CAS) in Lausanne.

Published by HT Syndication with permission from Hindustan Times.


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