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Last Updated: Wednesday, 26 September 2007, 18:18 GMT 19:18 UK
Resentment of India's hockey team
By Tinku Ray
BBC News, Delhi

Celebrations as India win this year's Asia Cup in hockey
The hockey winning celebrations were more subdued
While India celebrates the return of the winning Twenty20 cricket team, the country's hockey community feels that it has been passed over.

It recently triumphed in the Asia Cup, but its success did not trigger anything like the wild celebrations lavished on the returning cricketers.

The Indian hockey team beat South Korea 7-2 on 9 September in the finals of the Asia Cup to retain the trophy.

The coach, Joaquim Carvalho, said the team felt "all but ignored".

Mr Carvalho strongly objected to the "huge amounts of cash" awarded to the triumphant cricket players.

All Wednesday local television channels broadcast the pomp and ceremony in Mumbai (Bombay) to honour the returning cricketers.

The scenes of thousands of jubilant people welcoming the cricket team spurred the hockey players and national coach to pour out their feelings.

"Why are our hockey players being treated like orphans and why are our politicians biased against hockey, the national game?" Mr Carvalho asked on a local news channel.

"Our players are poor kids who are also playing for India and the glory of India. But where were the millionaires and politicians with their cash for them?"

'Outraged'

Mr Carvalho's sentiments were echoed by others in the hockey community.

India's Gurbaj Singh (left) and South Korea's Cho Suk Hoon
Hockey fans say their win was the more admirable achievement

President of the Indian Hockey Federation KPS Gill told the BBC: "As far as the government and politicians are concerned they only know one sport - cricket.

"It's a pity. But cricket gives the giver a lot of publicity. That's why all these politicians are doling out cash awards to the cricket players.

"They can then be reflected in the glory. Every Indian should be outraged that public money is being used like this."

While the cricket players have been given tens of thousands of dollars for winning the Twenty20 tournament, the hockey team in comparison were only given a few thousand dollars when they won the Asia Cup.

There has been saturation media coverage of the cricket win, but only sparse coverage of the hockey triumph, even though hockey is India's national sport.

"Cricket isn't even a game played by the whole international community. It's only a Commonwealth sport basically," Aslam Sher Khan, former captain of the Indian hockey team, told the BBC.

"In contrast, hockey and football are world-level sports.

"Yet there's no concern in our country that we're not doing that well in those sports that could elevate us to an international status."

But given the almost hysterical celebrations that have greeted the Indian cricket team, it will be a tough climb to elevate hockey to the same status as cricket.


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