No money, no tour! Demonetisation forces Air India to skip Bombay Gold Cup in Mumbai

Updated: Nov 29, 2016, 11:52 IST | Ashwin Ferro |

Demonetisation drive forces country's leading hockey outfit, Air India, to skip prestigious Bombay Gold Cup beginning in the city from Monday

Members of the Air India team pose after winning the Guru Tej Bahadur Gold Cup hockey tournament in Mumbai last year
Members of the Air India team pose after winning the Guru Tej Bahadur Gold Cup hockey tournament in Mumbai last year

Prime Minister Narendra Modi's demonetisation drive has taken its toll on one of India's leading hockey teams - Air India. The prominent hockey outfit has decided against participating in the Mumbai Hockey Association Ltd-organised 51st All India Bombay Gold Cup tournament beginning at the MHAL-Mahindra Stadium from Monday (November 28) due to the new regulations, limiting the withdrawal of daily cash.

"Our company has agreed to transfer the tournament's expenses that run into a few lakh of rupees into my bank account, but how will I withdraw the money to pay my players their daily allowances? At the rate of R1000 per player, I will need to withdraw Rs 20,000 to Rs 25,000 daily, but the government's prescribed limit is way below that," Vineet Kumar, manager of the Air India hockey team, told mid-day from New Delhi yesterday.

Sameer Dad
Sameer Dad

Vineet added that it would be unfair to cause inconvenience to his players. "Even if I manage to get their daily allowances sorted, Mumbai is an expensive city and our boys could need cash for things other than their basic necessities too. It would be ridiculous to expect them to stand in long queues outside ATMs in the middle of a tournament," added Vineet.

Eight of the 12 teams participating in this Gold Cup are outstation sides. So how will they manage their expenditure? Vineet explained: "Some of the bigger teams like Indian Oil have a different payment system. Their players first spend from their own pockets and are then reimbursed on submitting a claims form after the tournament."

Air India head coach and former international Sameer Dad admitted he and his boys are disappointed at having to miss an important tournament. "Mumbai is a great hockey destination and we love to play here. Dhanraj Pillay and myself have formed many a tournament-winning partnership here. It's sad that we have to miss out this time due to finance issues," said Dad, who took over the team's coaching reins from Pillay this season.

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