‘Autocratic’ Batra was just finding ways to fire me, says Paul Van Ass

Friday, 24 July:The special committee’s recomendation to remove him as India’s hockey coach did not come as a surprise to Paul van Ass, who said an “autocratic” Hockey India president Narinder Batra was just finding ways to officially sack him after the onfield spat in Antwerp.

The nine-member committee headed by Harbinder Singh, formed to decide on his future, today recommended that Van Ass, who had claimed that he has been fired following his altercation with Batra, should not be continued.

When contacted, Van Ass rued the weakness of the Indian system and said Batra owes him an apology for tarnishing his reputation.

“I knew the decision already. I am not surprised. He (Batra) was just finding ways to fire me and he did it. He should apologise for it (tarnishing my reputation),” Van Ass told PTI from his home in Rotterdam.

“I won’t call him a dictator but he is an autocratic person. How can he single-handedly take all the decisions? How can he single-handedly fire me to please his ego? “No one from the Sports Authority of India has tried to contact me. I don’t blame any individual, it is the weakness of the system,” he said.

As per the procedure, it is now for Hockey India to make a formal announcement about Van Ass’ future with Indian hockey. Van Ass had taken over as the coach from Terry Walsh, incidentally also sacked after a spat with Batra, just five months ago.

The development leaves India without a coach with barely a year to go for the Rio Olympics for which the team has already qualified by virtue of their gold medal in last year’s Asian Games. The committee’s decision also puts an end to days of uncertainty over the future of the Dutchman, who had gone on record to say that he was willing to come back as coach provided there was no interference.