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Semi-final defeat: India chief seeks Pakistan’s apology over ‘celebration style’

BHUBANESWAR: India’s field hockey chief on Sunday demanded an apology from the Pakistan team for what he called “uncouth behaviour” after their 4-3 win over the hosts in the Champions Trophy semi-final.

As the final hooter sounded in Saturday night’s thriller, excited Pakistani players took off their shirts and made rude gestures towards Indian fans at the packed 7,000-capacity Kalinga stadium in Bhubaneswar.

Tournament director Wiert Doyer, who investigated the incident, let off the players without any action after Pakistan coach Shahnaz Sheikh apologised on their behalf.

But Narinder Batra, who heads Hockey India, wrote on his Facebook page he would not schedule any bilateral matches with the neighbours unless the Pakistan Hockey Federation issued an “unconditional apology.”

Batra also lashed out at the International Hockey Federation (FIH) for not taking action against the Pakistanis and threatened not to host world meets in future.

“I am instructing my CEO to inform FIH that in case this kind of behaviour by teams is within normal and tolerable limits of FIH, then we may not be interested to host any more tournaments in India,” he wrote.

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“The tournaments may be shifted to countries which tolerate this kind of nonsense and uncouth behaviour.”

India are due to host the 2018 World Cup.

Shahnaz, a former international, had walked out of the post-match press conference in a huff after Indian reporters persisted in asking questions about his players’ behaviour after the game.

In a statement issued late on Saturday, Doyer said he had investigated the incident and did not deem it necessary to take action against anyone.

“I have spoken to Shahnaz and told him that the behaviour of Pakistan players went beyond what is acceptable to standards of the FIH,” Doyer said in the statement issued by the world governing body.

“The behaviour in question concerned many members of the Pakistan team. It is difficult to find any particular miscreant, and it is possible that the behaviour of the players may have been a reaction.

“Mr. Shahnaz Sheikh has apologised and assured me that this behaviour will not occur again. Given these matters, I’ve decided that no further action is warranted,” Doyer said.

The semi-final helped Pakistan avenge their defeat by India in the Asian Games final in South Korea in October that denied them a direct entry to the 2016 Olympics.

Pakistan take on Olympic champions Germany in the final on Sunday night.

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