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Update: Volleyball Federation confirms no player will be suspended; satisfied with Asian Games performance.

Update: Volleyball Federation confirms no player will be suspended; satisfied with Asian Games performance.
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Published: 1 Sep 2018 5:02 AM GMT
Update: With respect to the article published on September 1, 2018, The Bridge reached out to Mr. Ramavtar Singh Jakhar, General Secretary of Volleyball Federation of India, who has strongly denied the rumors. In addition to that, he has promised that he will look into the matter which ever concerned person has spread the rumor in the name of Volleyball Federation of India on Facebook, and will look into it, once he is back to India from Jakarta. The Bridge regrets publishing the following report. (The party that is the Asian Games are now drawing to a close, and it is time for some accountability. While there have been several unexpected quarters that have yielded medals for the Indian contingent, several teams have produced results which can only be described as disappointing. Here, one has to take into account the
numerous instances of controversy and unnecessary drama
that certain sports and athletes were made to go through before they could confirm their participation in the multi-sporting event in Jakarta. One of the sports at the centre of the controversy was Volleyball. It has been widely established, given the circumstances and events that led up to the Asian Games, that the Indian Olympic Association has been supremely inept at picking the right teams. It was the reason why athletes were forced to take a legal recourse in the matter. It was also the reason why the "Final List" that the IOA had initially come up with was made to go through multiple changes before it could be called final. The IOA, for its part, had maintained that its entire policy behind crafting the list was to prepare the best possible squad for garnering medals at the Games. That was why football was left out, right?
That was why the women's rugby team was left out as well.
It still does not explain how including the volleyball teams in the contingent bound for Jakarta "increased India's medal chances." According to the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports and the guidelines that they laid down way back in 2014, for team events, only the top 8 teams in the continent are eligible for consideration when it comes to the quadrennial Asian Games. Also Read: The curious case of Indian volleyball  The Volleyball Asian Championships took place last year, and neither the National Men’s nor the Women’s team participated in it. There was a drawn-out fight between two
rival factions
of the Volleyball Federation of India which led to the organisation being de-recognised by the international parent body for a specified period.
This non-participation means that the most recent Asian standing that we have of the Volleyball teams is from the 2015 Championships- where the men’s team finished 11th, and the women’s team were placed 10th. The justification given by Narinder Batra is that both sides are ranked among the top 8 in Asia and hence, deserve to be a part of the Asian Games extravaganza. At the end of the Asian Games, it is evident that neither the men nor the women deserved to be in Jakarta. The women ended their campaign with a single win and, before their penultimate match, had failed to win even a single set at the Games. The men registered victories against Hong Kong and the Maldives but faltered at every step it mattered. So how does one ensure accountability here?
The Volleyball Federation of India Facebook page put out a statement saying that "Volleyball Federation of India and its office bearer including Mr Murugan, CEO and General Secretary Shri Ramavtar Singh Jakhar have expressed disappointment for the dismal performance of Men and Women Volleyball Teams in Asian Games." But this was not all. Perhaps the most appalling section of the statement was one that said that all members of the current team would be suspended for five years and all work to develop Indian Volleyball would begin with a fresh batch of players. The reason justifying this suspension is that the team produced "undesirable results" in their Asian Games outing. Not one word was said about the management and the support staff and their involvement in the entire fiasco. Was it a disciplinary action aimed at sincerely improving results for the future? Or just a way to make the players the scapegoat for the humiliating end to a disappointing campaign?
Five years in an athlete's life is a long time. Barring the occasional young talent, most of Indian Volleyball is filled with veterans who have been around for the sport for the past many years and have garnered the experience necessary to compete in major tourneys. A thorough suspension would mean an active end to their careers not to mention that grooming a fresh batch of players without any prior experience in the squad would take a very long time. Even if you are down with the idea of the players getting the rap for the campaign at the Asian Games, they were not the only ones responsible. The absence of a stable Federation and administration has ensured that Indian Volleyball has gotten no chance at all develop and get better. And this is a sport where India once yielded medals at the continental and World level. How far they have fallen!
That's not the end of the VFI statement, however. "A Fact-finding inquiry has been set up which shall be led by Shri GE Sridharan and report will be presented to Sports Minister Shri Rajyvardhan Singh," added the mandate. Additionally, this Fact Finding operation will be receiving a sanctioned amount of Rs 5 lakhs for the inquiry from the Sports Ministry. We were able to confirm the authenticity of the Facebook page by speaking to a former Volleyball player who is also an erstwhile official of the VFI. However, with two rival factions currently fighting over administration of the game further action and statements are awaited. The players, of course, have the option of legal recourse against the Federation.
Since the Volleyball Federation of India does not have a functional website that is regularly updated, the only source of information regarding the workings of the organisation have been its social media handles. In the past, information regarding Indian Volleyball, announcement of tournaments, statements by General Secretaries have been correctly quoted by the handle. If it is indeed masquerading as an official page despite not being one, VFI should issue a clarification immediately which it has not done so far. Furthermore, it is important to remember that there are two factions of Volleyball administration in India and it is difficult to determine exactly who is running the show when it comes to the sport. Now that the matter has been taken up, it is completely possible for a clarification to be issued which sings a completely different tune to the one which is doing the rounds now. The Bridge reached out to AK Patro from the Sports Ministry. He was unavailable for comments.)
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