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Shivendra's suspension reduced to two matches on appeal

New Delhi, March 2 (IANS) Indian centre forward Shivendra Singh's suspension from the ongoing World Cup has been reduced from three matches to two by the International Hockey Federation (FIH) Tuesday following an appeal from the host team management.

Shivendra had been served the three-match ban by tournament Director Ken Read Monday for "deliberately hitting" Pakistan's midfielder Fareed Ahmed during Sunday's match between the sub-continental rivals which India won 4-1.

But following an appeal by the Indian team management, the three-member Appeal Jury reviewed the video evidence considered by Read and the footage presented on Shivendra's behalf and ruled Tuesday that the player's action in raising his stick was "reckless but that he did not deliberately intend to cause injury."

"The Jury (also) considered the case presented during the hearing in the written and oral submissions," Antonio von Ondarza, President, FIH Appeal Jury, said in a statement.

"The Jury considers that it constitutes physical assault as referenced in the FIH Code of Conduct Guidelines of Offences and Penalties. The Jury concluded that the offence was Level 2 (under Article 15 of the tournament regulations), was reckless but not deliberate and therefore requires the minimum penalty of a two-match suspension," he said.

Hari Kant and Johan Wakkie are the other two members of the panel.

Read had concluded Monday that the minimum punishment was not applicable "because the ball remained on the ground at all times and was clear of the players when Fareed was struck. A four-match suspension is appropriate, but given the history of this player I consider that a suspension of three matches is appropriate."

"The appeal is partly upheld," he said.

Shivendra, who scored the first goal against Pakistan, now has to sit out India's crucial Pool B matches against Australia Tuesday and Spain Thursday.

Indian team manager and national coach Harendra Singh, who accompanied Shivendra in the appeal hearing alongside assistant coach Ramandeep Singh Grewal, said the forward had pleaded that his action was not deliberate and assured that he would be "more careful" in future.

Terming Shivendra's absence in the two games as "a big blow" to the team, Harendra told IANS: "He would have been crucial against Australia and Spain and we will go back to the old times where we used to play with 14 players".

(News published under the licence from Indo Asian News Service)

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