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Page last updated at 20:00 GMT, Tuesday, 9 February 2010

England admit India World Cup safety fears


England Hockey performance director David Faulkner

By Pranav Soneji

England are still seeking assurances that their safety will not be compromised during next month's Hockey World Cup in India.

The European champions are among 12 teams competing in Delhi, the host for the Commonwealth Games later this year.

"We're happy to travel, but I'd like to see more consideration three weeks before the tournament," England Hockey chief David Faulkner told BBC Sport.

"I'm still waiting for guarantees of what's going to be put into place."

England's badminton team withdrew from the world championships in India last year because of terrorist threats.

England's hockey players are scheduled to play Australia on the opening day of the World Cup on 28 February.

Performance director Faulkner, a member of Great Britain's gold medal-winning team from the 1988 Olympics in Seoul, is still waiting for security details of the team's hotel and transportation as well as the World Cup venues.

Barry Middleton in action for England
One of the annoying things for us is the security thing gets in the way of that, it takes away the excitement

England captain Barry Middleton

"I'd hope to see a better understanding and consideration given to some of the participating teams, particularly the Commonwealth countries who have troops in Afghanistan and have an identity in that area in the world," he said referring to Britain's 9,000 troop deployment.

"We have to ensure there is no distraction when they land in Delhi."

Should intelligence suggest an imminent risk to his team, Faulkner said he would have no hesitation in withdrawing from the tournament.

"If, for any reason, intelligence reaches us direct or indirect, we have a decision-making process to deal with it. If we need to pull out, we will pull out," he confirmed.

Faulkner has been contact with the British High Commission in India over security planning and has consulted other sporting bodies with recent experience of travelling to India.

They include county cricket sides Somerset and Sussex, who both competed in the inaugural Champions League Twenty20 tournament in October, as well as other Olympic sports such as badminton.

And England captain Barry Middleton, who lifted the EuroHockey Nations title in August last year following a shock 5-3 win over Germany in the Netherlands in August last year, fears the off-field distractions will detract from the thrill of playing in front of huge crowds.

"It's one of the most exciting tournaments we'll ever play, it's going to have a totally different atmosphere than most of us have never seen," said the Doncaster-born midfielder.

"One of the annoying things for us is the security thing gets in the way of that, it takes away the excitement."

The Foreign and Commonwealth Office's website advises visits carry a "general and high threat from terrorism throughout India".

If we need to pull out, we will pull out

Performance director David Faulkner

The eight-strong England badminton squad pulled out of last August's world championships in Hyderabad after reports of threats by Muslim extremists Lashkar-e-Taiba, a Pakistan-based organisation fighting against Indian control in Kashmir.

It has been blamed for several terrorist incidents in India including the October 2005 bomb attacks in Delhi, which saw 60 people killed, and is alleged to have played a part in the armed raid on the Indian parliament in December 2001.

The group was also linked with the Mumbai terrorist attacks in November 2008, which killed at least 188 people.

Head coach Jason Lee's team, who finished fifth in the 2006 World Cup in Monchengladbach, are ranked sixth in the world but have targeted at least a semi-final berth.

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see also
England fail to win on Spain trip
26 Jan 10 |  Hockey
England fear World Cup readiness
15 Jan 10 |  Hockey
India hockey players lift strike
13 Jan 10 |  South Asia
England finish last in Melbourne
06 Dec 09 |  Hockey
England lose to Germany in opener
28 Nov 09 |  Hockey
Hockey's new golden age?
04 Sep 09 |  Hockey
England stun Germans to win title
30 Aug 09 |  Hockey

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