A new move to end the ongoing crisis of hockey stumbled at the start as Abahani Limited, one of the bickering parties, failed to turn up in a compromise meeting on Wednesday.
Abdur Rashid Shikder, a vice-president of Bangladesh Hockey Federation and the general secretary of Usha KC, convened the meeting upon instructed by government high-ups.
Among the 33 Dhaka Premier League, first division and second division hockey clubs, 26 clubs attended the meeting held at Hotel Purbani in the afternoon.
Abahani and Bangladesh Railway were the two Dhaka Premier League clubs who did not send any representatives. While Railway, a Chittagong-based club, regretted their absence, there were no official words from Abahani regarding their absence in the meeting.
Abahani backed current general secretary of the BHF, Khaja Rahmatullah, who is at the centre of all controversies as five clubs refused to play in the league with him at office.
Mohammedan SC, Mariner Youngs Club, Wari Club, Dhaka Wanderers Club and Bangladesh Sporting Club, said they will not participate in any competition under Rahmatullah, leaving the sport in a standoff for nearly two years.
As a result of their boycott, no league was held since February last year.
Hockey organisers urged Rahmatullah to resign for the sake of the sport as they saw no other way out.
Shikder said he personally spoke to Rahmatullah over the issue before the meeting.
‘I requested Rahmatullah to quit and he sought a week to think about the issue,’ he said, ‘Personally I am ready to resign from my post like some other executive committee members.’
Lokman Hossain Bhuiyan, the director in-charge of Mohammedan, said they will return to the field only if Rahmatullah relinquishes his position.
‘We are keen to play hockey,’ said Lokman. ‘But in the present situation it’s not possible to return to the game. ‘Rahmatullah is the only person who is creating obstacle in resolving the crisis.’
Lokman accused Rahmatullah of dragging the issue this far, alleging him of avoiding negotiation when attempted.
‘He [Rahmatullah] repeatedly said that he will discuss with us but he didn’t ask me for a single time to sit with him. So how can we trust this person?’ he said.
‘We are waiting to see his next move. If good sense does not prevail, we will meet the new president [Chief of Air Staff Air Marshal SM Ziaur Rahman].’
Mariners’ secretary Hasanullah Khan Rana said they are ready to participate in the league under anyone except Rahmatullah.
‘After today’s meeting we are hopeful that a solution could be reached. Hopefully Rahmatullah will realise that he is at the centre of all controversies and will resign soon.
‘If he resigns today we will participate in the players’ transfer tomorrow.’
Most of the members in the existing committee said they are ready to submit their resignation letter to the president for the betterment of hockey.
BHF joint secretary Anvir Adil Khan, however, said Rahmatullah’s resignation may not end the crisis.
‘Mohammedan and Mariners were boycotting the league under Rahmatullah. Now if he resigns and Abahani take the same position the crisis may linger,’ he said. ‘So we should not single-handedly blame him. Rather we should look for a solution with all clubs.’
Rahmatullah could not be reached for comments while other Abahani officials also refused to speak on the issue.
-With New Age input