Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

The revamped Hockey India League (HIL) is all set to return this year with many new things like bigger player purse, stricter franchise norms and just two venues instead of the usual home-and-away format. However, no players from Pakistan will be allowed in the league.

As per sources, more than 1,000 domestic male and female players will be in the fray for auctions. Approximately 500 international stars have expressed interest to be part of the league. The number could rise after the Paris Olympics. Around 30 corporates have evinced keen interest on buying teams.

As per Hockey India sources, the league will take place after the Paris Olympics ends in August. Only those international players whose countries are ranked in the top 15 of the world at present will be allowed to register for the auction. As per the International Hockey Federation’s (FIH) latest rankings, Pakistan are placed 16th in the world.

“We didn’t even know that Pakistan wasn’t in the world’s top 15 when we formed the rule. Initially, we were thinking of allowing only those players whose countries were in the top 10 of the world to make sure the quality was high. But after much deliberation, we decided to make it top-15,” said a Hockey India official.

Notably, as many as nine Pakistan players were part of the first edition of the HIL in 2013. However, they were sent back in the middle of the league following political protests against them over the killing of Indian soldiers in Jammu and Kashmir. Since then, no players from Pakistan have played in the HIL.

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