‘Divided’ FIH: Narinder Batra retains world hockey presidency in tight vote

India’s Narinder Batra retained presidency of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) on Saturday after a closely-fought, two vote win against Marc Coudron, of Belgium.

Batra held on for a second term at the helm of world hockey, defeating Coudron by a narrow 63-61 vote during the FIH virtual Congress.

He needed an absolute majority of 63 votes to retain the presidency after succeeding the outgoing Leandro Negre in 2016. Batra will now hold his seat until 2024.

Batra had unveiled 11 key targets in the run up to the election and will now seek to carry those aims out with the FIH facing financial difficulties.

The Indian said in his closing remarks that the first destination he will visit when allowed to fly would be to Belgium to visit Coudron.

Coudron said he was “disappointed” to lose out by such a close vote.

He added: “I hope hockey will develop, for the top nations but for me the main objective was the development for all the nations. I had some good plans and it will be for Narinder to go on like this.”

In his final speech on Saturday, Coudron also issued a thinly veiled message to Batra after admitting he would focus “100 per cent” on the presidency should he be voted in, giving up his seat as a Belgium Olympic Committe member. Batra is expected to carry on duties as Indian Olympic Association president alongside his FIH work.

Erik Cornelissen, Dutch hockey’s president, said that the vote reflected the current status of the world governing body as a “divided” FIH.

Cornelissen, who held on to his executive board seat, added: “If we want to grow hockey and reach our ambitions, we have to really work together.”

Meanwhile, Danae Andrada Barrios and Hazel Kennedy were re-elected to the FIH board as women members, while Inez Cooper, of Ireland, missed out.

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