HKHA launches probe into a possible India ban for Khalsa's Harpreet Singh
Hong Kong association is investigating reports that player who sparked a pitch invasion at a club match is the same one suspended in another jurisdiction
Hong Kong Hockey Association officials were yesterday desperately trying to confirm whether Khalsa player Harpreet Singh - banned for four matches for instigating the crowd invasion of the pitch during his side's clash with Punjab in a local league match nine days ago - is the same player supposed to be serving a ban handed down by Hockey India in June.
"It has come to our attention that one Harpreet Singh was banned by Indian hockey officials. We are now making inquiries to see if it is the same player who was banned by us," said Sarinder Dillon, HKHA president yesterday.
Questions have been raised as to why Hong Kong officials allowed a player banned in another jurisdiction to play for a local club. Singh joined Khalsa recently from India and has played two games for the side, including the controversial encounter against Punjab where he made a rude gesture to a section of fans at Happy Valley after scoring a goal, provoking the pitch invasion.
"We didn't know he was banned in India. We are now trying to find out what the details are," Dillon said.
"This has never happened before and I don't really know what action the executive committee will take. But it makes sense if a person is banned in one jurisdiction that he be barred from playing in another. It is only fair we support [Hockey] India for we all belong to the International Hockey Federation."
Reports in the Indian media revealed a player named Harpreet Singh and four other Namdhari players had reportedly "thrashed a Railways team member at the players' hostel after a hotly contested match at the Hockey India Senior National Championships" in June.
The players were suspended and Hockey India joint secretary, Manoj Bhore, was quoted as saying "a three-year ban has been recommended for the five Namdhari XI players". The club was also fined 25,000 rupees (HK$3,100).
"We register a lot of players at the start of every season and we don't normally check their credentials," Dillon said. "Once we get a response to our inquiries, we will consider what further action to take."
Khalsa team manager Gurcharan Singh said they were unaware of the incident involving Harpreet Singh and Namdhari.
"We didn't know about this, but it has now been brought to our attention. We will be checking up on this," Gurcharan Singh said yesterday.
Harpreet Singh was banned locally for "bringing the game into disrepute" by the HKHA's men's section committee last week. His provocative action resulted in players from Singh Sabha Sports Club (SSSC), who were spectators that day, running on to the field to remonstrate. SSSC as a club - all three of its teams across three divisions - were suspended for two matches.
The HKHA's disciplinary committee is considering further sanctions against four SSSC players at the centre of the invasion.
"This is a very serious offence and we wanted to send a strong message that we will not tolerate this," said Richard Mak, chairman of the HKHA's men's section committee.