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Two Pakistan hockey players suspended for obscene gestures

BHUBANESWAR: Two Pakistani field hockey players were suspended and one was reprimanded for making obscene gestures after their team’s semi-final win over hosts India in the Champions Trophy semi-final, the sport’s governing body said on Sunday.

Muhammad Tousiq and reserve goalkeeper Ali Amjad were handed a one-match ban that sidelined them from the final of the eight-nation tournament against Germany later on Sunday in Bhubaneswar.

Shafqat Rasool was reprimanded for the same offence, the International Hockey Federation announced after conducting a hearing with Pakistan coach Shahnaz Sheikh and the players earlier in the day.

“The above-mentioned players were seen making gestures that are considered to be obscene,” the FIH said in a statement without elaborating. The body had earlier cleared Pakistan of any wrongdoing.

As the final hooter sounded in Saturday night’s 4-3 thriller, excited Pakistani players took off their shirts and made rude gestures towards Indian fans at the packed 7,000-capacity Kalinga stadium.

Shahnaz, a former international, also 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.

Tournament director Wiert Doyer, who investigated the incident soon after the match, had let the players off without any action after Shahnaz apologised for their actions.

The FIH U-turn on Sunday came a few hours after Hockey India chief Narinder Batra demanded an unconditional apology from Pakistan and called for strict action by the governing body.

“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,” Batra said in a statement.

“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.

Batra also threatened to severe all ties with the Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) unless they issued an unconditional apology.

In a separate statement released by the FIH on Sunday, Shahnaz issued a fresh apology on behalf of the PHF.

“The incident…..contained behaviour that is considered unacceptable to Pakistan Hockey Federation and the entire hockey fraternity,” he was quoted as saying in the statement.

“As the result, I have spoken to my team and explained to them that they are guests in India and as hosts they have been very hospitable to the team.”

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

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