Government acts tough with money-minded players

New Delhi, July 25 (IANS) Taking a strong note of Indian tennis players rebelling, the sports ministry Thursday asked the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and National Sports Federations (NSFs) to come down hard on players who prefer prize money tournaments over representing the country.

Sports secretary Pradip Deb didn't specify if the directive was against any sports federation but admitted that what happened in Indian tennis earlier this year was unacceptable.

"The directive is not against any specific federation. But what happened in tennis (players' rebellion) was ridiculous and unacceptable," Deb told IANS.

The ministry in a statement said that of late it has been noticed that sportspersons, belonging to various sports disciplines, prefer to play in prize money tournaments and avoid playing in tournaments where India as a team participates for medals rather than cash awards.

"Individual players will be able to avail grants given to NSFs by the ministry only if they undertake to play in the Indian team when called upon to do so without reservations. If there are specific exigencies because of which they are unable to play, this should be verified by the concerned NSF which thereupon can make an exception at their discretion," the ministry said in a statement.

Eleven top players, led by Somdev Devvarman, led a rebellion against the All India Tennis Association (AITA) over a charter of demands and made themselves unavailable for the Davis Cup tie against South Korea in February this year.

India had to field a completely new side, with Leander Paes being the only known face. India lost 1-4.

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