LAHORE: Narinder Batra has secured a second term as President of the International Hockey Federation (FIH) after edging Marc Coudron in a closely-fought election at Saturday’s online Congress. There were just two votes separating the two candidates as Batra clung on to his position as head of the organisation and will remain in charge until 2024. Batra, also President of the Indian Olympic Association (IOA) and an International Olympic Committee (IOC) member, polled 63 votes, while Coudron collected 61 as the Belgian challenger came agonisingly close to beating his Indian rival. A 62-61 result would not have been enough to see Batra re-elected, so this was the smallest winning margin possible. A total of 124 members voted at the election with Eswatini entering seconds before the vote began –– potentially playing a key role in the outcome. After the election, FIH chief executive Thierry Weil insisted he was unable to reveal which way each member voted. “It has been heavily requested by all the National Associations that this has to stay completely confidential,” said Weil. Batra has been FIH President since 2016 but has been accused of not dedicating enough time to the position. His critics believe he has prioritised his role as head of the IOA – which is linked to his IOC membership. Having been re-elected by such a narrow margin, Batra acknowledges that he may need to change the way he works to regain the support of members. “Almost 49 per cent of the members wanted a change so it becomes my duty to understand where they feel I did not live up to their expectations,” said Batra. “I will understand their viewpoint and explain my viewpoint. We are all human beings and we do make corrections, so where it will be required it will be taken. I will certainly be trying to understand the issues with the 49 per cent.” Tayyab Ikram and Erik Cornelissen were re-elected unopposed to the FIH Executive Board as men’s members. The Congress also approved applications for membership from three National Associations, with Timor Leste Hockey Federation, Hockey Association of Gambia and Saudi Arabian Hockey Federation all being accepted. Some amendments to the FIH statutes were also ratified by members, including the use of gender-neutral terms. In anticipation of future virtual competitions or activities, e-games were also added to FIH’s statutes in order to extend its purpose and powers.