Corruption in Nepali Football

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Nepal football fansThe international news agency, Associated Press did, to some degree, what the Nepali national main stream  media had failed to do for so long. The news agency dropped a bombshell by making public, the parts of the audit report, prepared by the international accounting firm PriceWaterhouse Cooper (PWC) that linked All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) supremo Ganesh Thapa and his son Gaurav Thapa to corruption.

The Shocking Revelation

So far, we know  ANFA boss’ son reportedly received $100,00, and Mr. Thapa  had received $4,366 to  purchase air tickets for his wife and son in relation to the Asian Cup 2011 held in Doha, Qatar. The report speaks volumes of Mr. Thapa’s likely involvement in unscrupulous and illegal activities, though, there are no compelling evidences to prove it. I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for now, and he is innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

In his seventeen years with the football body, this is the first time the ANFA boss has come under intense fire and scrutiny for his alleged link in shoddy deals. He has never before looked so vulnerable, so exposed and so wobbly. Mr.Thapa has steadfastly denied his involvement, but the audit report paints a very different story. The entirety of the corruption scandal and the people involved will be known only after the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) completes its investigation.

Ganesh Thapa with Mohamed Bin Hammam

The report by PriceWaterhouse Cooper of  former head of AFC and FIFA vice-president Mohamed Bin Hammam’s alleged involvement in money laundering, tax invasion, bribery and many more has opened the Pandora ’s Box. The revelation of Mr. Thapa and his son’s involvement was a stunner and did not go down well with the Nepali public. There was outrage, condemnation and a call for investigation on part of the National Sports Council (NSC).

We are appalled that NSC has done nothing to pursue the facts or  launch its own investigation despite the magnitude and seriousness of the issue. Instead the apex sports body has unashamedly shied away from its obligations, and it has not sought any clarifications from Mr. Thapa. The biggest irony of all, however, is that NSC chief Yubraj Lama has made a complete mockery of his promise that he would ensure financial  transparency and accountability of  national sport associations.

Very few people remember that Mr. Thapa was charged for misappropriation of ANFA funds in the past. The football association is a cash cow in terms of revenue generation, and in the wake of the latest corruption scandal, it is imperative for NSC to review the financial management of the football body. At least the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA) has started the investigation into the corruption charges.

The   fast  unfolding  saga of the disgraced Mr. Hammam has rattled and ruffled Mr. Thapa, indeed. Since then  he  has kept   a   very   low profile. And contrary to expectations, the national media seem content to remain passive. The corruption scandal, largely downplayed by the  media, can no longer be contained. The matter of truth is that they cannot get over their infatuation with the ANFA boss. 

Strict Probe expected

AFC acting president Zhang Jilong has promised to keep his organization clean and free of corruption.

However, now it does not really matter whether the Nepali football media cares about it or not. AFC acting president Zhang Jilong has promised to keep his organization clean and free of corruption. The Asian football body has   roped in former FBI director Louis Freeh with the purpose to speed up and intensify the ongoing probe. Given  that, it seems  a thorough and profound investigation, and they will leave no stone unturned. Those that were involved should be investigated, charged and punished.

Time will tell whether or not  Mr. Thapa and his son are  guilty or not. Regardless of AFC findings, I feel Mr. Thapa’s days  at AFC  are numbered, but I might me wrong.

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