Rule changes hurt Pakistan and India, says Rehan


Pakistan ace forward Rehan Butt believes the constant changes in the rules of field hockey have affected the performance of former giants of the game – India and Pakistan – while benefiting the Europeans the most. “The rules of the game are constantly being chopped and changed by the strong European lobby. They have removed the off-side rule and have also done away with the rule, which penalised ‘turning’. Such rule changes have been done to the detriment of India and Pakistan,” Butt said. Butt pointed out that the officials from neither India nor Pakistan were strong enough to prevent the change of rules from being implemented at the international level.
“The European lobby is very strong,” said the 31-year-old striker, who was a member of the Pakistan team that won the Champions Trophy bronze medal for three straight years – 2002, 2003 and 2004. Butt, who was one of the Pakistan players signed up by Nimbus Sport and Indian Hockey Federation – the joint promoters of the forthcoming World Series Hockey, said the tournament was very important for his career. “It is a very important tournament for me,” said the former Pakistan skipper, who would be leading one of the eight teams in the competition to be held from December 15, 2011 to January 22, 2012 in eight cities across India. Asked about reports in Pakistan that senior players such as he himself and Sohail Abbas were being eased out of the national team for the next month’s Asian Champions Trophy (ACT), he said, “I, Sohail Abbas and Salman Akbar have requested for a break after having played continuously. We want to be given a rest for the Asian Champions Trophy (in China). But I am available for the four-nation tournament in India next month.” The four-nation tournament is to be played immediately after the ACT, from September 19 to 26, and will be seen as a good preparation by the Pakistan hockey team for December’s Champions Trophy, also to be hosted by India. Asked about foreign coaches being recruited by both India and Pakistan, who once ruled the game, Butt said it was seen as a necessity as “there is too much politics in the game in both India and Pakistan.” Butt did not believe that there would be any problem for him in getting permission from Pakistan Hockey Federation to play in the World Series Hockey, which is not conducted by Hockey India, whom International Hockey Federation (FIH) recognises. “I don’t expect any problems in getting permission from the federation,” said the frontliner who has represented his country in the last two Olympics and World Cups. Asked how long he intends to play, Butt said, “at least till the 2012 London Olympics.”
Eight Pakistani players for WSH: Eight players from Pakistan, including former captain Rehan Butt, have signed up for the World Series Hockey (WSH), which will be held across eight Indian cities from December 15 to January 22, 2012.
The other seven players are, defender Zeeshan Ashraf, seasoned campaigner Mudassar Ali, Tariq Aziz, midfielder Adnan Maqsood, half-back Waseem Ahmad, Pakistan’s most capped player and drag-flicker Syed Imran Warsi and striker Shakeel Abbasi. “I am honoured to be a captain of one of the teams. World Series Hockey will see a face-off between the best international and Indian players and I am proud to be a part of this prestigious and highly anticipated event,” said Butt, who will be leading one of the eight city-based franchise outfits. The cash-rich league, a joint venture of the Indian Hockey Federation and Nimbus Sport, has signed top international players from Australia, Argentina, Spain, Canada, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand and South Korea as well. “The response from the players and members of the global hockey fraternity has been overwhelming. The top players from the international arena, including Pakistan, have signed contracts and the league is all geared up to enthrall fans with a spectacular display of skill,” Nimbus Sport Chief Operating Officer Yannick Colaco said.