Ipoh (Malaysia): Malaysian umpire G. Vijayanathan has flayed former Pakistan captain Islahuddin Siddiqui for claiming that India's winning goal in the final of the 1975 World Cup was not clean.
India won the World Cup defeating Pakistan 2-1 in the final in Kuala Lumpur, but Islahuddin has claimed in his recent autobiography that umpire Vijayanathan blew for a goal when striker Ashok Kumar's shot had rebounded off the post.
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Ishahuddin repeated Pakistan's long-silenced claim in his book, which drew Vijayanathan's attention to an issue which he thought had been settled with pictures and video footage of the goal in public domain for years.
"It's amazing that Islahuddin has repeated this false theory after so many years even after the entire world has seen videos of the 1975 final that clearly show the Indian goal," Vijayanathan today told PTI in an interview.
"The video of the 1975 final has been in public domain for years and and it's freely available even on YouTube. Unless one wants to live a lie, the proof is available for anyone to see," said Vijayanathan, clearly hurt with what Islahuddin has written in his book.
In Islahuddin's book, what caught Vijayanathan's attention was a chapter "A Goal That Wasn't" which claims that the umpire had wrongly awarded India the goal.
Besides, Islahuddin has claimed he was the closest to the action and saw exactly what had happened.
Disgusted and disappointed
"I am disgusted and disappointed that a man of his caliber and that too the captain of the Pakistan team can make such a down-graded statement," said Vijayanathan, who has maintained silence on the issue and allowed the pictures to speak for themselves.
"Islahuddin has probably written all this just for a certain audience, but he has forgotten then there is no law against speaking the truth," he said.
"I umpired the final of the 1975 Hockey World Cup in Kuala Lumpur with Alan Renaud of France. India won the exciting encounter with Ashok Kumar scoring the winning goal."
"In pictures of Ashok Kumar's goal, you can see nine players and myself, but Islahuddin is nowhere to be seen. While I am watching the action from close to the striker and the goalkeeper, Islahuddin isn't even visible in the zone.
"Yet, he continues to make a false claim that he was closest to the action," said Vijayanathan. "Photographs and videos do not lie. It makes me wonder why Islahuddin is saying all this."
Vijiyanathan says his conscience was absolutely clear.
Amid Pakistan's claims about that goal, Vijayanathan accompanied the Late Sultan Azlan Shah to a studio the very next day to see the film of the final. The Late Sultan was a top organizing official of that World Cup.
"We saw the action slide by slide and the Late Sultan too clearly saw that it was a goal and I had signaled correctly," Vijayanathan said.
"I cannot understand why some people refer to it as a disputed goal. In my opinion, a goal can only be termed disputed if an official protest -- in writing -- is made to the technical delegate after the game," said Vijayanathan. "Pakistan made no official protest."
Islahuddin also writes that Pakistan had reservations about Vijiyanathan umpiring the final "because of his Indian roots."
"He seems to have forgotten the number of India-Pakistan matches I had officiated in the past, including the finals of two Asian Games in 1970 and 1974, both of which were won by Pakistan." said Vijayanathan.
"Let me tell you that I am a full-bloodied Malaysian, born and bred in Malaysia for the last 80 years, My parents were born in Sri Lanka and had made Malaysia their home since 1924," Vijayanathan said.
"The Pakistan players, officials and their hockey federation obviously knew the truth about India's World Cup-winning goal. That is why, despite several threatening calls directed at me after the 1975 final, I was invited to officiate in the 1976 Qaid-e-Azam Centenary International Hockey Tournament and also in Islahuddin's benefit match in 1982," says Vijayanathan.
He recalled how Pakistan insisted on him being the referee for its bronze medal play-off in the 1976 Olympics.
"In the 1976 Olympics, none of the Asian teams had qualified for the final, so I thought my dream of officiating in the title encounter would come true," said Vijayanathan.
"The irony of it all was that Pakistan insisted that I must be an umpire in the bronze-medal match in which they were playing, and because of this I was nominated as an umpire for the bronze medal match instead of the final."
Islahuddin has claimed in his book that Pakistan deserved to be the champions because they were the stronger team and it was evident from the scores of the semifinal.
"Have you heard of such absurd logic that a team should have won the World Cup because they were stronger on paper and had won the semifinal with a bigger margin?" wonders Vijayanathan.
"Pakistan would not have liked losing the final, but for winning any match, the team has to deliver on the ground," Vijayanathan added.