Nepal’s Football association boss Ganesh Thapa’s fate still hangs in balance

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Nepal football
Ganesh Thapa with Mohamed Bin Hammam

Lately there has been a flurry of action on and off the field despite the ominous air of uncertainties surrounding Nepal football. Apparently, suspended President of All Nepal Football Association (ANFA), Ganesh Thapa, continues to overshadow national sporting headlines.

The indomitable bulldog , the ANFA Chief, was finally brought to his knees, following FIFA’s decision to suspend him from office for four months. Prior to that he was suspended for two months by the government on the recommendation of Public Accounts Commission that investigated him. As a matter of fact, he made a mockery of the government’s decision to suspend him. He decried, mocked and challenged the decision by the government to suspend him. He behaved as though nothing had happened.

Mr.Thapa, as always surrounded by his loyalists, spoke with confidence and defiance to the media. He reiterated his innocence and said that he would be returning to resume his duties as President of ANFA. In contrast, there were significant changes in his tone, attitude and demeanor after FIFA suspended him for four months. He avoided the media fanfare and refrained from uttering a word. Instead, Mr.Thapa quietly slipped into hibernation, anxiously waiting to find out his fate. For now his fate hangs in balance. Whether he keeps his job or not, hinges largely on FIFA’s decision. In other words, his future rests in FIFA’s hands.

Now that FIFA has decided to take a second look at his case, anything can happen. Given the history of FIFA’s inconsistency, unpredictability when it comes to dealing with corrupted football association presidents and officials nothing can be taken for granted. And we should not count on something before it happens.  We will have to wait and see how things shape up and develop. Don’t be taken aback if Mr.Thapa survives the biggest nightmare storm of his presidency.

A real possibility, indeed. If that happens, he is most likely to turn ANFA into his fiefdom without question. It is hard to envisage such a situation. Victims of the system are the future generations of footballers who are faced with an uncertain future. Our government can play a critical, decisive role in this regard (if they truly want it)). It’s all about their ability, efforts to deal with FIFA.  So far, they have been shamelessly dragging their feet on this issue for inexplicable reasons. The Sport Minister was bold enough to dissolve the Cricket Association of Nepal, but he has no backbone to take on Mr. Thapa. It makes me so damned mad! The minister has made himself a laughing stock of himself in the eyes of the entire Nepali sport fraternity.

Lately the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority, the anti-corruption watchdog, has been in the news for its most sustained drive against high-level corruption, but most shockingly it has turned a blind eye to Mr. Thapa’s case so far. Sans ‘Reuters’, the international news agency’s coverage, FIFA never would have reconsidered reviewing Mr. Thapa’s corruption scandal. Credit also goes to the “Save Nepal Football” group for their crusade against Mr.Thapa.

Although the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) directed the Ministry of Youth and Sports to suspend Vice President and General Secretary of ANFA Lalit Krishna Shrestha and Dhirendra Pradhan respectively from office for two months, but they have not yet adhered to this directive. Why is the Ministry not taking actions against them for their failure to comply and observe with their directive? I am very surprised that the “Save Nepal Football” group is yet to  raise any hue and cry about it. 

Calls from all quarters, including local football stakeholders, former international players (team mates of Ganesh Thapa) in the likes of Mani Shah, Umesh Pradhan, Dipak Amatya and many more for new leadership, change and reform in ANFA are intensifying, growing by the day.

Image courtesy : thefootballramble.com
Image courtesy : thefootballramble.com

The ball is  in FIFA’s court now; it is up to them to make the decision. The reality is that if the football governing body is unwilling to listen to our drumbeat of despair and hopelessness, nothing will materialize, no matter what we do. FIFA must not undermine the greater interest of Nepal Football. It would be a terrible mistake to ignore this popular demand for a change, transparency and accountability in governance at all levels on part of the world football governing body.

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