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Kabaddi ruckus

The Express Tribune 2020-02-13 11:00:45

It also deflec­ts from India’s habit of contin­ually mixing sports and politi­cs

Pakistan and India are in the middle of yet another war of words. This time, however, the stakes are much lower. The conflict is over the ongoing Kabaddi World Cup, specifically the status of the Indian team participating in the tournament. The Pakistan Kabaddi Federation (PKF) has rejected Indian claims that the team has not been approved by its sporting authorities. While Pakistan’s response was mostly consistent in accusing India of mixing politics and sports, there were some odd opinions on the issue. One came from PKF President Chaudhry Shafay Hussain, who blamed “enemy elements” for the confusion. That could have been where he stopped, but confoundingly, he then claimed that FIRs will be lodged against those spreading “false propaganda”. Whether that means Indian sports officials or the Pakistani media for reporting on the issue, it is a stupendously bad take.

It also deflects from India’s habit of continually mixing sports and politics, with recurring refusals to play Pakistan in almost every sport, even at world cups and championships. Even though PKF Secretary Rana Sarwar did make this point, he also confused matters by urging the media to “check the rankings of all the players” in the Indian team. Unfortunately, whether or not the Indian team is made up of good players is irrelevant. If it isn’t sanctioned by the official Indian body, it is an unofficial team.

The fact is that Indian Olympic Association (IOA) Chief Narinder Batra said he had “no idea” about the players who had gone to Pakistan and that the team was not approved by the IOA or the Amateur Kabbadi Federation of India (AKFI). A kabaddi federation official also went on record to confirm that it had not granted permission to any team to take part in the tournament in Pakistan. Interestingly, he also claimed that the AKFI only found out an Indian team was in Pakistan after the federation was asked about it.

Whoever is telling the truth, the fact remains that the Indian government is bringing its own athletes shame, even when they win.

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