Three months after the Indian women’s hockey team showcased their best-ever Olympics outing, the man credited with the transformation, Dutch coach Sjoerd Marijne, is still waiting for the last instalment of his salary and cash incentives. The reason for the delay: a crashed computer and bureaucratic red-tape.
India, under Marijne, secured a historic fourth position at Tokyo 2020, a remarkable turnaround for a team that had finished last at Rio in 2016. Though they failed to make it to the podium this time, their performance, along with the men’s bronze medal, got Indian hockey unprecedented national focus and sparked hope for the sport’s revival in the country.
Post-Tokyo, the players, along with the coaching staff, were promised cash awards and incentives. But since Marijne’s tenure ended after the Olympics, he returned home after a very brief visit to India.
Now, speaking to The Indian Express, Marijne said he is yet to receive his “final salary” from the Sports Authority of India (SAI) and a reward of Rs 25 lakh announced by the UP government. “I am yet to receive the prize money from the UP government and the dues that are pending with SAI. However, I am in constant touch with them and I am confident it will be settled soon,” he said.
While Marijne didn’t elaborate, a source said that one of the reasons why his “full and final” salary has been withheld is that he hasn’t yet returned his official laptop, which had “crashed” in the middle of the Olympics.
When contacted, SAI said they have withheld six days’ salary, amounting to $1,800, which will be released after Marijne returns “official possessions”.
“The salary is already under process and will be released the moment official possessions given to Sjoerd Marjne as chief coach of the women’s team are submitted to SAI by him, which is part of the administrative procedure required for the full and final settlement,” SAI, who employ coaches for all teams, said in a statement.
According to the contract, SAI said, they would “recognise” the coach’s contribution in major tournaments, including the World Cup where India reached the quarterfinals, the Asian Games where they won a silver medal, and the Olympics. But, a “performance bonus was not part of the contract”, it said.
After reaching Tokyo as rank outsiders, the women’s team went on to beat former Olympics gold medallists Australia in the quarterfinals. On their return home, the team was felicitated by UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, with a cash prize of Rs 50 lakh announced for each player. Coach Marijne was entitled to receive Rs 25 lakh while the support staff got Rs 10 lakh.
The players and some members of the support staff, who were present at the grand function in Lucknow on August 19, received their prize immediately. However, Marijne was unable to attend the event as he had moved on to his next assignment with Dutch club Tilburg.
The UP government’s sports director RP Singh, a former international hockey player, said the amount hadn’t been disbursed yet because they were waiting for the coach’s bank account details.
“The money has been sanctioned by the government. When our government spent Rs 42 crore on this, why would we not give Rs 25 lakh?” Singh said.
“The delay is because we wanted to make sure we get the correct bank details so the money goes to the right person. We have all the details now and we will transfer the amount immediately after Diwali.”