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Devbrat Patnaik

Bhubaneswar: Fifteen days into the Men’s Hockey World Cup, controversies continue to surround the Hockey India (HI), the governing body of Hockey in India with allegations of its CEO Elena Norman misbehaving with the Indian players in full public view here on Tuesday doing rounds in digital news space and social media. Earlier, reports of a Hockey India official meting out rude behaviour to a lady photojournalist had also surfaced in national newspapers.

The latest incident, which reportedly happened at the VIP lounge of the Kalinga Stadium during a crossover match between Netherlands and Canada yesterday, has taken the social media by storm with many eye-witnesses lashing out at the Hockey India CEO.

As per sources, there’s a protocol that players and team officials are not allowed to be at the lounge and were instructed that this lounge is out of bounds for all of them, which they breached. But the manner in which the CEO burst out at the players which included Captain Manpreet Singh, Mandeep Singh, Gurjant Singh and Krishnan Pathak, in front of guests and other dignitaries took everyone by shock.

“GET OUT FROM HERE? HOW DARE YOU COME HERE? NOW JUST SHUT UP AND GET OUT”- Norman yelled at the players, reported Leo Devadoss, freelance sports writer on his Facebook post.

Terming this behaviour of the HI CEO as utter disrespectfulness towards the team, hockey fans criticised her on social media and demanded an apology.

"I was witness to this unfortunate episode. I was standing with the players when it happened. I put myself in their shoes because I saw them squirming like school kids in front of a head mistress. She must be holding enough clout to ensure that they are jettisoned out of the team if they retaliated. Who gave her that clout? The officials too have something to lose if they take her on. No one is willing to risk their position or job and prefer to squirm and get abused. It's time she changed her ways because one day she will meet someone who has nothing to lose and will give her back in equal measure. That day is not far," said one Yashoda Devi in reply to a Facebook post.

"This woman does not deserve to be given the right to stay on if she can't mend her ways. Making a public spectacle in front of hockey lovers is a total no-no," she added.

However, contacted, Hockey India refuted the allegations further denying of any such incident taking place at the stadium.

On the other hand, Indian team captain Manpreet while speaking to a news agency said, “It was our own mistake that we went to the restricted area without our knowledge. It is not that we were taken there forcibly by someone. Anyways, when we realised our mistake we just came out.

“These are minor episodes which will have no effect on our performance against Netherlands tomorrow,” he said, referring to the crucial quarterfinal clash.

A few days back, similar incident had happened in the Fan Village set up at the Kalinga Stadium when a female photo journalist and her physically-challenged brother were misbehaved with and pushed by an official of Hockey India. Following allegations from several sections, the Hockey India had even tendered an apology for the incident, sources said.

A report by The New Indian Express dated December 5 had mentioned that the photographer was covering Team India’s visit to the Odisha Police stall at the Fan Village when the HI official allegedly shoved her away and her brother.

The Indian Hockey team topped the Pool C and stormed into the quarterfinals of the ongoing Hockey Men's World Cup. After the Netherlands hammered Canada 5-0 in the crossover match yesterday, they will now face India in the quarterfinals tomorrow.

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