I Have Taken Retirement From Wrestling, Says Ex-WFI Chief Brij Bhushan After Ministry Suspends WFI

TNN Bureau. Updated: 12/24/2023 7:18:27 PM Sports and Culture

NEW DELHI, Dec 24: Former Wrestling Federation of India (WFI) chief Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh on Sunday said he has “taken retirement” from the sport and the newly-elected body will now take charge as he has many more responsibilities to look into, including next year’s Lok Sabha elections.
Brij Bhushan’s comments came soon after his meeting with BJP chief JP Nadda following WFI’s suspension by the Sports Ministry till further orders.
In suspending the newly elected WFI, the government cited its “hasty announcement” of organising the U-15 and U-20 nationals “without following due procedure and not giving sufficient notice to wrestlers” for preparations.
The ministry also said the new body was working under “complete control of former (WFI) office-bearers” — an indirect reference to Brij Bhushan — which was not in conformity with the National Sports Code.
The WFI elections were held on December 21 with Brij Bhushan’s loyalist, Sanjay Singh, and his panel winning the polls by big margins.
“I served wrestling for 12 years, good or bad only time will tell. I have taken retirement from wrestling. I am breaking my relationship with the sport. Now whatever decision has to be taken, whether to liaise with he government or handling the legal processes, those decisions will be taken by the elected members now. The Lok Sabha elections are round the corner and I have to move ahead,” he said.
Brij Bhushan clarified that the decision to hold the U15 and U20 Nationals was taken in haste because he did not want the young players to lose one precious year of their careers.
“In haste, the old committee had to take the decision to organise the U15 and U20 Nationals because on December 31 the competition cycle (of year 2023) was ending and if those tournaments happen after that, one full year of the wrestlers would have gone waste,” said Brij Bhushan.
“That’s why all the state associations collectively decided that a sporting atmosphere needs to be brought back as soon as possible.”
The decision to host the U15 and U20 Nationals in Nandini Nagar in Gonda has also drawn criticism from wrestlers including Olympic medallist Sakshi Malik, who have claimed young women were wary of going there.
Brij Bhushan said the Nationals were allotted to Nandini Nagar because all state associations declined to host them because of paucity of time to make arrangements at such a short notice.
“The championship was allotted to Nandini Nagar because every state association said they cannot organise it in just 4-5 days. The decision to hold the U15 and U20 Nationals was taken by consensus of all 25 state associations so that children don’t lose one year. All 25 state associations gave their consent in writing to hold them in Nandini Nagar.
“I will request the government and the sports ministry to please organise the tournaments under their supervision if they want in Delhi or whichever place they want so that children don’t lose a year,” he added.
Brij Bhushan is a sitting BJP MP from Kaiserganj in Uttar Pradesh.
On meeting BJP chief JP Nadda on an eventful day, the former WFI chief said there was no discussion with regard to the suspension of the newly-formed body.
“Look, he is my leader. I will meet him, keep meeting him. But it had got nothing to do with this (wrestling issue),” said Brij Bhushan, whose WFI was replaced by an IOA-constituted ad-hoc committee on orders from the ministry after top wrestlers Bajrang Punia, Vinesh Phogat and Sakshi Malik levelled allegations of sexual harassment against him.
Bajrang had returned his Padma Shri award to the government on Friday in protest over Sanjay Singh’s election as WFI chief. On Thursday, Sakshi Malik quit wrestling for the same reason.
Brij Bhushan questioned why wrestlers were against the new WFI president Sanjay Singh. “He is not my relative,” he said.
One of the reasons cited by the ministry for suspending the Sanjay Singh-led WFI was that the new body had started functioning in the same premises (Brij Bhushan’s official bungalow) from where the previous office-bearers operated wherein allegedly sexual harassment of the players have been alleged.
“I will tell the new office-bearers to take their office to a new place. When they have made that provision, they can move out,” said Brij Bhushan.

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