Bengaluru: India men’s and women’s Indian hockey teams on Saturday took a strong exception to an allegation levelled by former head coach Sjoerd Marijne in his newly-launched book and threatened to take legal action against him.
The book is titled “Will Power: The Inside Story of the Incredible Turnaround in Indian Women’s Hockey”.
The controversy refers to an episode where a young player whom Marijne trusted failed to perform because of captain Manpreet Singh allegedly asking him not to play well.
The alleged incident took place in 2017 when Marijne was the coach of the Indian men’s hockey team. He had selected a young player to represent India at the Commonwealth Games 2018 in Gold and was pretty positive about his success as a player, but the player failed to perform.
Initially, the Dutchman thought that the player was under pressure to perform in a major tournament, but later he allegedly learnt that Manpreet had allegedly told the player “to stop playing so well”.
Reacting to the allegation, the players said it is a complete breach of trust and also leads to Indian athletes feeling vulnerable in such situations.
“We have seen in the press today some disturbing allegations being made by the erstwhile Chief Coach of our teams, Sjoerd Marijne. We have come together to state our deep disappointment in his exploitation of our personal information and false accusations. He has used his time of coaching us for commercial gain to sell his book at the cost of our reputations,” they added.
Marijne was chief coach of the Indian women’s Hockey Team in 2017 and Men’s Hockey Team in September 2017.
“We would like to collectively question Sjoerd Marijne, that if any of the claimed incidents took place under his watch there should be record of an allegation filed to Hockey India or the Sports Authority of India at the time. On checking with the authorities, we have found no such record of the complaint,” the players said.
“The Indian National men’s and women’s hockey team stand together with each other and will defend our integrity that has been brought to question by him. Our country, team and the sport of hockey are our collective top priority and under no circumstances will we allow for the integrity of any of our team members to be compromised for anyone else’s personal gain. We are in the process of pursuing legal remedies against Sjoerd Marijne and the publishers of the book in question, Harper Collins,” they said.
In May 2018, Marijne was removed from the position of men’s team coach and was re-appointed as the coach of the Women’s Hockey and went on to guide the team to a fourth-place finish at the Tokyo Olympics.