The Indian men’s and women’s hockey teams, in a joint statement, have strongly refuted allegations made by former men’s team coach Sjoerd Marijne against captain Manpreet Singh. The 48-year-old former Dutch player, according to a report in The Indian Express, has written in his soon-to-be-released book titled “Will Power” that skipper Manpreet had allegedly told a player “to stop playing so well because his friends were not able to get into the team.” According to the report, Marijne also wrote: “I don’t know if Manpreet had said so as a joke, but it made me so furious.”

The Indian hockey teams have strongly refuted this claim by Marijne. “We have seen in the press today some disturbing allegations being made by the erstwhile Chief Coach of our teams, Mr. Sjoerd Marijne. We have come together to state our deep disappointment in his exploitation of our personal information and false accusations. He has used his time of coaching us for commercial gain to sell his book at the cost of our reputations,” it said in a statement.

“This is a complete breach of trust and his duty of care as a coach. It also leads to all Indian athletes like us to feel vulnerable in such situations.”

The statement further said that the teams are in the process of “pursuing legal remedies against Mr. Sjoerd Marijne and the publishers of the book.”

“We would like to collectively question Mr. Sjoerd Marijne, that if any of the claimed incidences took place under his watch there should be record of an allegation filed to Hockey India or the Sports Authority of India at the time. On checking with the authorities, we have found no such record of complaint,” the statement added.

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“The Indian National men’s and women’s hockey team stand together with each other and will defend our integrity that has been brought to question by him. Our country, team and the sport of hockey are our collective top priority and under no circumstances will we allow for the integrity of any of our team members to be compromised for anyone else’s personal gain. We are in the process of pursuing legal remedies against Mr. Sjoerd Marijne and the publishers of the book in question, Harper Collins.”

Speaking to The Indian Express, Marijne said his intention was “not to harm anyone, but for people to know the situation you are dealing with as a coach and what happens behind the scenes”. Marine was initially the coach of the India men’s team and then took charge of the women’s team. Under his guidance, the Indian women’s team finished fourth at the Tokyo Olympics.

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