Indian athletes hope ban could bring change

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Updated 06 December 2012
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Indian athletes hope ban could bring change

NEW DELHI: Indian athletes have lamented the ban dished out to their national Olympic association by the IOC but hope that it could turn out to be a blessing in disguise and lead to a clean-up of the organization which runs sport in the country.
At a meeting in Lausanne, Switzerland on Tuesday, the IOC banned the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and said a vote to elect its secretary-general yesterday would be “null and void.”
Lalit Bhanot, who spent 11 months in custody last year following corruption charges that plagued the 2010 Commonwealth Games in Delhi and who is out on bail, was left as the only candidate for the post after his rivals pulled out.
The ban means an effective end to funding from the IOC, no Indian officials attending Olympic meetings and Indian athletes banned from competing at the Olympics under their country’s flag.
“This is unfortunate. As a sportsperson, I feel like I have been orphaned,” shooter Joydeep Karmakar told Reuters.
“It’s a big blow to us. I think the IOC is going to suspend funding and there could be other repercussions as well,” added Karmakar, who just missed out on a bronze medal in the men’s 50m rifle prone at the London Olympics.
“Playing under the national flag means a lot for us. Competing under the Olympic flag won’t give you the same feeling.
“At the same time, I’m optimistic it would lead to a new body which would be more efficient and more responsible.”
Former double trap shooter Moraad Ali Khan echoed Karmakar’s sentiments.
“Standing on the podium with the national anthem being played and the nation’s flag unfurled, it’s a different feeling altogether and it has been taken away from Indian athletes,” Khan told Reuters.
“But when medicine doesn’t work, what do you do? You go for surgery and we had reached that stage.”
Khan, who won gold at the 2002 Manchester Commonwealth Games in men’s double trap pair, said it seemed like the IOC’s move was the last resort.
“Only a drastic step like this could have shaken the ailing system. It’s time for taking the corrective measures. Maybe you won’t see overnight changes but I expect some positive developments in the coming months.”
Shooter Abhinav Bindra, who won India’s first individual Olympic gold at the 2008 Beijing Games, was also left hoping the ban could bring about a better governing body to run sports in the world’s second most populous nation.
Bindra is one of the few Indian athletes to consistently question India’s sports administrators.
“Bye Bye IOA, hope to see u again soon, hopefully cleaner!” he said on his Twitter feed.
The IOC’s move to ban the Indian body, which has been plagued by in-fighting and criticized for lacking transparency, also found favor outside India’s sporting community.

Best-selling Indian author Chetan Bhagat suggested even more drastic measures were in order.
“As an Indian, I am happy that the IOA has been suspended. Some of our authorities change only when thoroughly shamed,” he Tweeted.
“Dear IOC, you have suspended the IOA. Now if only you could round up the officials, take a javelin and ... oh well, one step at a time.”


Juan Antonio Pizzi is still the right man to lead Saudi Arabia, says former Green Falcons boss

Updated 22 June 2018
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Juan Antonio Pizzi is still the right man to lead Saudi Arabia, says former Green Falcons boss

  • Saudi Arabia's 1996 Asian Cup-winning coach Nelo Vingada backs Pizzi to lead side into next year's Asian Cup.
  • Green Falcons face Egypt on Monday with both looking to land their first point in Russia.

MOSCOW: Saudi Arabia’s 1996 Asian Cup-winning boss Nelo Vingada has called on the country’s football authorities to keep faith with head coach Juan Antonio Pizzi despite a disappointing showing in Russia.
The Green Falcons still have to face Egypt in the final match of Group A, but have already been eliminated following a 5-0 defeat at the hands of Russia in the opening game on June 14 in Moscow and a 1-0 loss to Uruguay five days later in Rostov.
 “I was expecting a little more from Saudi Arabia to be honest,” Vingada told Arab News.
“In the first game they were disappointing but a first game of the World Cup is always hard and especially when it is the first game and everyone is watching. Plenty of teams at the World Cup did not play well in the first game.
“But playing Russia in Russia and to lose is what you would normally expect from Saudi Arabia and while it was far from positive, people should not get carried away.
“The game with Uruguay was much improved in terms of organization and defense and it showed more of the character of the Saudi Arabia team.”
In the past, coaches have been axed following disappointing World Cup campaigns but with the 2019 Asian Cup just seven months away, the Portuguese tactician would prefer to see some stability rather than yet another new man in the dugout.
 “The Asian Cup is in the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia will be one of the contenders,” Vingada said. “It is better to stay with the same coach. He has a vision of how he wants the team to play and he now knows the players and the players know him.”
Constant changing has not helped Saudi Arabia in the past and Pizzi himself has been in the job just seven months.
“The problem is not the coach. He should not be changed, that has happened before but results did not improve, but the mentality has to change.”
Despite that Vingada, who has coached 
Egyptian club giants Zamalek and the country’s Under-23 team, believes that the Pharaohs, also eliminated, will prevail when the two regional rivals meet on Monday in Volgograd.
 “This is an important game for pride, the players and the countries. It is still the World Cup. Egypt have a little more quality I think and have Mohamed Salah too.” 
The Liverpool striker has been recovering from a shoulder injury sustained in the Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid in late May and missed the opening game 1-0 loss to Uruguay. He played in the second game, a 3-1 defeat at the hands of Russia, scoring from the spot late in the match to earn a consolation.
“Any coach would take Salah because he can win you games but overall Egypt have been a little disappointing and a little unlucky.”
The bad luck came when conceding a last-minute goal to Uruguay and a fluke own goal to get Russia off the mark. “Uruguay are a tough team and it is no shame to lose 3-1 to a Russia team at home who are playing to qualify for the next round. It showed that European and South American teams still have a little more quality.”
 “Egypt just made some mistakes at the wrong time but this is football and without mistakes there are no goals.”
Ahead of the clash against Egypt Pizzi confirmed his intention to stay as Saudi Arabia boss, looking to build on the seven months he has had to imprint his ideas on the team ahead of the Asian Cup.