India's hockey coach Paul van Ass is all set to be formally sacked following his bitter public spat with Hockey India President Narinder Batra after a special committee on 24 July recommended his removal from the post.
The nine-member committee headed by Olympian Harbinder Singh, formed to decide on his future, has recommended that van Ass, who had claimed that he has been fired following his altercation with Batra, should not be continued.
As per the procedure, it is now for Hockey India to make a formal announcement about the Dutchman's future with Indian hockey. Van Ass had taken over as the coach from Terry Walsh. He was incidentally sacked after a spat with Batra, barely five months after his appointment.
A top Hockey India official said President Batra will have discussions with High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans and Sports Authority of India (SAI) officials in the next couple of days before formally announcing van Ass' ouster.
Van Ass has become the fourth foreign coach to be shown the door unceremoniously ever since Hockey India took over the reins of the game in 2009.
Paul van Ass' reaction
"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 revealed.
"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?," he asked.
What did Harbinder Singh-led committee say
"We gave our recommendation to Hockey India. Hockey India and Sports Authority of India will now take the final call," Olympian Harbinder Singh, head of the nine-member committee which was formed to decide on Paul van Ass' future, said.
When prodded further, Harbinder said, "He has not yet submitted his report on Hockey World League semifinals. He is not taking our calls, nor responding to our mails. The tickets were sent to him but he lied he didn't receive any tickets. "
"Under such circumstances, the committee has worked under the assumption that Paul won't return. There is no question of him returning. But Hockey India will take the final decision based on our report," he concluded.
Besides the van Ass issue, the committee also reviewed India's performance in the Hockey World League Semifinals in Antwerp, Belgium where they finished fourth. The committee felt one bad tournament doesn't call for a drastic overhaul in the team.
Who'll be India's next coach?
According to media buzz, High Performance Director Roelant Oltmans will probably be given charge of the men's team till the Rio Olympics as the committee feels, with just a year to go for the mega event the Dutchman is the right person to take over the reins of the team instead of appointing a new foreign coach.
Oltmans has been associated with Indian hockey for nearly three years and knows the requirement of the team having worked with the players for quite some time now.
To add to it, the players also gel well with Oltmans and some have even aired their views of handing the reins of the team to the Dutchman after van Ass' ouster.
India's situation ahead of 2016 Olympics
The latest development in the Paul van Ass saga is definitely a worrying sign for India. The team is currently without a coach with barely a year to go for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics, for which the team has already qualified by virtue of their gold medal in last year's Asian Games in Incheon, South Korea.