WSH approaches Pak players; Saqlain gets an offer

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Karachi, Jan 27 (PTI) The organisers of the proposedWorld Series hockey have started approaching prominentPakistani players with former captain Muhammad Saqlain todayconfirming that he had been offered to sign a contract.

"Yes some people have contacted me and some other leadingplayers for the World Series which I think is a great idea andfinally a chance for players to obtain some financial securityfor themselves and their families," Saqlain told PTI.

Nimbus Sports and the Indian Hockey Federation havesigned a 15-year deal to hold the WSH annually in Indiacovering 10 cities.

The participating teams would be owned by corporatefranchises and players will be selected on draft pick.

The organizers have claimed that players'' initialcontract will be for three years and estimated averageearnings for performers will range from Rs 40-50 lakhsannually starting from this year.

The International Hockey Federation has announced it doesnot recognise the WSH and players taking part in it will bebanned from international competitions.

The Pakistan Hockey Federation taking a lead have made asimilar announcement that players who sign up for the WSH willnot be allowed to play in Pakistan again.

The FIH only recognises Hockey India as the ruling bodyof the sport in India and does not recognise the IHF.

Saqlain said that he was surprised at the attitude of theFIH and PHF.

"What is wrong with having a high quality professionalleague which will not only benefit players financially butalso raise the bar of the sport globally," he questioned.

Despite warnings from the PHF, Saqlain said it would notdeter Pakistani players from signing up for the tournament.

"I wouldn''t be surprised if members of the Pakistan teamincluding Sohail Abbas, Rehan Butt, Zeeshan Ashraf, WaseemAhmed, Salman Akbar sign up for the WSH in near future. Thefinancial benefits for them are immense," he said.

Interestingly the above players who were members of thePakistan team that won the Asian Gold Medal in China after 20long years are yet to receive the cash awards, job promotionsor plots that were announced for them by the government, PHFand other companies to celebrate their historic victory.

PHF secretary, Asif Bajwa was clear that any event thatis not recognised by the FIH cannot be recognised by the PHF.

"The bottom line is that until the FIH recognises the WSHit remains an unofficial event for us and we can''t givepermission to any of our players to take part in it," Bajwasaid.

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