After travelling across 13 states, one Union territory and 30 districts of Odisha, the hockey World Cup trophy will reach the brand-new Birsa Munda Stadium in Rourkela on January 13, when India open their campaign against Spain.
The stylish trophy – carved out of gold and silver with a hockey stick and ball on top of a globe – has been received with great fanfare by thousands, including former and current players, in every city and district where it has been paraded over the last month.
However, five years ago, when Odisha first hosted hockey’s showpiece event, the trophy nearly triggered a crisis for the International Hockey Federation (FIH) as well as the host country.
The prestigious #HWC2023 trophy visited a number of historical monuments while touring around the nation. Watch the glorious snaps of historical significance 🤩#HockeyIndia #IndiaKaGame #HockeyTrophyTour #StarsBecomeLegends @CMO_Odisha @sports_odisha @Media_SAI @IndiaSports pic.twitter.com/WYZMm897N2
— Hockey India (@TheHockeyIndia) January 5, 2023
On Thursday, former FIH, Hockey India and Indian Olympic Association (IOA) president Narinder Batra revealed that he had threatened the world body that he will ‘ensure that the Indian Customs do not clear the trophy to enter’ the country.
The reason? The world map embellished on the trophy, Batra claimed, showed Jammu and Kashmir as a part of Pakistan.
“After I became President of FIH in 2016, I insisted on the correction and told FIH that neither I, nor will I allow any Indian political leader to present this trophy during the 2018 World Cup in India and I will ensure that Indian Customs do not clear the trophy to enter into India with incorrect map,” Batra, who resigned as the president of IOA and FIH last year, said. “The trophy was finally corrected in 2017 and then only Continents were displayed and country lines were removed.”
When asked, the FIH confirmed that modifications were made to the trophy in 2017 but did not elaborate on what changes were exactly made.
According to the FIH website, the trophy for the World Cup – the tournament that was the brainchild of former Pakistan Hockey Federation president Nur Khan – was conceptualized and designed by Pakistan in 1971 when the inaugural edition was held. “The designer was Basheer Moojid and the actual workmanship was carried out by members of the Electrical and Mechanical Engineers Corps of the Pakistan Army,” the FIH noted on its website.
The trophy was formally presented to then FIH President Rene Frank in Brussels by Pakistan’s ambassador in Belgium, where the world body was headquartered at the time. Decades later, in 2018, Belgium became the world champions for the first time and lifted the trophy – which was allowed into the country after the modifications were made – at the Kalinga Stadium in Bhubaneswar. The Belgians landed in Odisha’s capital on Friday to defend their title.
Pakistan, who won the inaugural World Cup and have been a powerhouse for decades, have not qualified for the 16-team event, which will be co-hosted in Bhubaneswar and Rourkela.