The Pakistan Hockey Federation (PHF) has reportedly placed a ten-year ban on Olympic Gold Medallist Rashid-ul-Hasan after the athlete criticised Prime Minister Imran Khan on social media.
The PHF, the national body overseeing hockey in Pakistan, purportedly banned Rashid after he failed to respond to two inquiries regarding his ‘abusive’ comments about the prime minister, who is also the PHF’s patron chief.
Rashid, who won gold as the right-half on Pakistan’s Field Hockey team in the 1985 Los Angeles Olympic Games, told Dawn he would consider challenging the suspension in court.
The Olympian has denied the PHF’s claims, saying that he has always shown respect towards the prime minister.
“On a WhatsApp group I only said that on the container though Imran Khan was claiming that he would put the game of hockey on the right track, nothing came on the surface during the last three years. And I also said Imran will not do any good work for hockey,” Rashid clarified.
Rashid claimed he learned of the PHF’s allegations approximately five months ago, when he first received a notice which he said, “didn’t carry any solid material, that’s why I did not consider it serious.”
He said he responded to a second notice from the PHF a little over a month ago, refusing to accept the allegations and stating that he did not use any abusive language against the prime minister.
Since then, the PHF has further requested the Pakistan Sports Board (PSB) to advise Pakistan Electronic Media Regulatory Authority (PEMRA) and other related entities to implement a ban on the athlete.
Rashid helped win gold for Pakistan, one of only three Olympic gold medals the country has won, all of which have been in field hockey – which is the national sport. Pakistan won its first gold medal in field hockey in 1960; the second in 1968; and the most recent in 1984, the year Rashid played. Pakistan has not won a medal in the Olympics since 1992.