Amritsar/Chandigarh: The 60-member contingent of Indian Kabaddi players which had crossed over to Pakistan last Saturday to participate in the 'Kabaddi World Cup' in Lahore returned back from the Attari-Wagah border on Monday. Their visit had turned controversial as they participated as an 'Indian team' at the event which even World Kabaddi Federation refused to recognise.
The Union sports ministry and the Amateur Kabaddi Federation of India (AKFI), the apex body for the sport in the country, also had denied sending any player to Pakistan to take part in the event.
The controversy erupted after the 'Indian' team's coach Harprit Singh Baba hoisted the Indian flag and the players sported a jersey with 'India' emblazoned on the back and claimed to represent the country.
The AKFI had also asked the Pakistan Federation to not allow the team to use 'India' on their jersey or tracksuits.
Upon returning while the players refused to make any comments, Harpreet Singh Baba said, "We did not do anything wrong by going there. We are ready to face any punishment if we are found wrong. It was a tournament dedicated to the 550 years of Guru Nanak Dev Ji, nothing else."
"We just went there to play kabaddi. We did not represent India and we wore the jerseys given to us by the officials in Pakistan. If we would have been wrong, we would have never given permission," said Baba.
When asked about the players, he said, "Our players played for foreign countries also. We went there in an individual capacity. We did not get any call from the officials in India to stop playing the matches."
The 'World Cup' organised by the Pakistan Federation was that of the Circle style Kabaddi which has several differences from the standard Kabaddi. While the standard Kabaddi has seven players with less than 80 kg weight each side, the circle style Kabaddi has eight with no limit on their weight.
The standard or national-style Kabaddi is recognised by the Indian Olympic Association (IOA), the Olympic Council of Asia and is the format in which the Asian Games are played.
Besides the 'Indian' team, Kabaddi teams from Australia, England, Germany, Iran, Azerbaijan, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Canada and the host country took part in the 'World Cup'.