Paul Van Ass, coach of the Indian men's hockey team, claims to have been sacked by Hockey India on 20 July. The Dutchman, who had taken over the charge of the Indian team earlier this year, reportedly had a feud with Hockey India President Narinder Batra during the semi-final round of the World Hockey League in Antwerp earlier in July. Van Ass had recently been absent from the national team camp at the Shilaroo SAI Centre in Himachal Pradesh, raising questions about his future in India.
Feud with Batra
After India's thrilling quarter-final win over Malaysia in the Hockey World League semi-final round, Narinder Batra reportedly entered the field of play and confronted the Indian players, on what he felt was an unsatisfactory performance from the team. This led to a disagreement with Van Ass, who asked him to leave the field. The feud seems to have eventually led to the sacking of Van Ass, who, on Monday, 21 July, clarified to various Indian media houses that his absence from the national camp was because of his sacking a week back.
Speaking to Catch News, Hockey India official Rajinder Singh, however, claimed to have no knowledge of the development. One of the Vice-Presidents of the organisation, Tapan Kumar Das, also towed a similar line. Narinder Batra, meanwhile, told NDTV that the coach had not been sacked, saying a final decision would be taken on 24 July.
Paul Van Ass: Fact-file
Having started his coaching career at Dutch side HGC, Van Ass took over the head coach's role of the Netherlands U21 team in 2008. In 2010, he was appointed as the coach of the senior Netherlands team, whom he led to a silver medal finish in the 2012 London Olympics. Earlier this year, he took over the coaching role of the Indian team, and was in charge of the side during its fourth-place finish in the semi-final round of the World Hockey League.