Nepal Football enthusiasts and participating teams eagerly waiting for the much-anticipated so-called National Football League to kick off have been left hugely disappointed, following the postponement of the competition. With President of All Nepal Football Association (ANFA), Mr. Ganesh Thapa, serving a four- month suspension, there was uncertainty over the organization of the National Football League (NFL) from the very beginning.
I am afraid it is going to be a long wait. As I write, it is official; the NFL has been postponed indefinitely. It’s no surprise. I anticipated it.
After football watchers expressed serious doubts regarding ANFA’s inability to organize the NFL, not only did Vice-President and CEO of ANFA brushed off doubters, but also they shamelessly reiterated and insisted that the competition would be held at the scheduled dates, only to ridicule themselves.
There is no doubt in my mind that ANFA postponed the competition under the pretext that Dasarath Rangasala is unavailable because of renovation work. There is also report that the football body is yet to ink a deal with sponsors for the competition. Furthermore, sponsors are unwilling to join hands with ANFA in light of the corruption scandal. At the time when ANFA determined the date for the organization of NFL, they should have known about the renovation work to the stadium and completed the deal with sponsors.
In my opinion, sponsors should refrain from supporting a corrupt ANFA that lacks accountability, creditability and found to have engaged in misuse of funds be it from the sponsors or FIFA or the government. Keep in mind sponsors, ANFA is yet to pay approximately Rs. 10 million to clubs which they promised as part of preparation expenses for last season, coupled with prize money to the clubs.
ANFA should stop throwing dust into our eyes because we have had enough of them. This is further evidence of their maladministration, incompetency and mismanagement. ANFA’s failure to host a competition (NFL) of this magnitude in more than two decades boggles my mind. Instead of seriously getting down to the business of planning and running a national league through collective efforts, they have been running helter-skelter and doing nothing about it. When we have such corrupt, inept and dishonest people governing, it is no shock that football and footballers at large have suffered and football development has remarkably taken a back seat.
No wonder, today domestic football is in such a lamentable state. Everyone knows Mr.Thapa and his cronies have done very little to change the dynamics of Nepali football. Whether you agree with me or not, Nepali football is walking backwards instead of sprinting ahead. Even Bhutan latecomers to international football seems better off than us in terms of domestic football setup, infrastructure, professionalism in football association, culture of football, serious investment and savvy marketing of football.
Despite everything, those who still believe in Mr. Thapa’s leadership are making fools of themselves for all to see. With the kind of money and resources ANFA is sitting upon, they could/should have done a whole lot more to uplift Nepali football and the story line would have been so different. They could have easily built a handful of stadiums; instead, they were mostly concerned filling their own coffers. It maybe be recalled that prior to Mr. Thapa’s suspension by the world football governing body, ANFA had hastily announced a slew of programs, which included the NFL what appeared to be a public relation stunt. As a matter of fact, it was nothing more than a diversionary tactic to distract attention from the real issue (corruption scandal surrounding Mr.Thapa). Damn right I am.
Since then and now, things have drastically changed for the worst. The dramatic turn of events in ANFA has pushed Nepali football into uncertain, uncharted territory. For the first time in twenty plus years, ANFA President Mr. Thapa has never, ever looked so remotely vulnerable and is desperately fighting for his job. Obviously, his fate hinges on FIFA Ethics Committee’s decision. With the intent to protest and fight against the dictatorial tendencies, high-handedness and lies of Mr.Thapa, Club Coordination Committee consisting of Friends Club, Himalayan Sherpa Club, Macchindra Club and Saraswati Club was formed. Since then they have boycotted all programs of ANFA. In retaliation, the clubs have been banned from taking part in tournaments held under ANFA. Besides, the oust Mr.Thapa campaign spearheaded by two disgruntled ANFA Vice-Presidents is slowly but steadily gathering momentum. They have undertaken a countrywide tour to expose the truths, systemic failure of ANFA leadership and how Mr.Thapa has failed the Nepali football fraternity. The mission is very challenging but doable, and they still have a long way to go.
What we need most is a united front led by national players, clubs and fans to combat and defeat Mr. Thapa and his associates. Otherwise, the equation will remain unchanged and Nepali football will slip even further into oblivion; and there will be no end to players’ misery and fans’ frustration. It is what it is. We cannot escape the hard truths.