ANFA Election, a farce

By Sushil Thapa
With the highly anticipated overdue All Nepal Football Association election on the horizon, momentum is slowly building up.
The frequently postponed election now scheduled for the month of March 2018 has generated a fair amount of interest in sport enthusiasts across the country. Without an iota of doubt, stakes are increasingly high for the future of Nepal football. The biggest irony is that every election cycle we hear how this is the most important election, but the end result is the same and nothing positive happens. In other words, the same set of people get elected over and over who prioritize their own self-interests above football interests. As a result, the landscape of Nepal football has remained more or less unchanged for far too long.  Since I have been actively following Nepal football dating back to 1993, we have gone through six election cycles if i am not mistaken, but shockingly the sport has stagnated like never seen before and no major changes have transpired to date . The biggest irony is that things have only gone from bad to worse. There is no leadership, no structure and no development,plain and simple. Consequently, Nepal football has hit rock bottom in terms of development, progress, performance and standards. Unquestionably, Nepal football needs a fresh start,coupled with visionary and dynamic leadership who can truly offer a new direction, a new outlook and a new inspiration.Given the depressing state of football, there is widespread despair , anger, frustration in football goers against All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) for failing in its obligation to develop the sport Guess what ? The same incompetent people have been in charge of football administration, management and governance for more than two decades. No wonder, Nepal football is pretty much in nowhere land today. The biggest culprit is five term Ex ANFA President Ganesh Thapa largely responsible for the current state of the game. All along his administration was guilty of misrule,high handedness,gross incompetence, corruption, misappropriation of funds and abuse of power. Had Mr. Thapa not been forcibly removed by the world football governing body, he still would have been in charge of ANFA, without a doubt. Despite Mr. Thapa’s shameful departure, ANFA still remains sick and dysfunctional sans long due reforms.His replacement Narendra Shrestha has proven to be a bigger disappointment and a very weak leader.  He has kept Mr. Thapa’s disastrous legacy intact. Also we have the same set of incompetent ANFA executives who worked hand and gloves with Mr.Thapa from the very outset. Forgetting not, with the support of Mr. Thapa and his band of loyal cronies ( that made up the bulk of electorate) Mr. Shrestha won the last election at the expense of his adversary VP ANFA Karma Tsering Sherpa. In retrospect, past ANFA elections have been marred by foul play, intimidation,bribing electorate, coercion, changing and twisting of laws and by-laws governing election and misappropriation of funds. The election has never been held in a fair and transparent way for the most part.

Mr.Thapa employed the above mentioned ploys to hang in to power for ever. The so called Asian Football Confederation (AFC) observers for the elections were never up to their task. Mr. Thapa who held different positions in AFC was smart enough to convince, influence them and win their support. In the the last ANFA election, apart from Mr. Shrestha, Mr.Thapa played a pivotal role in getting his brother – in -law Mani Kunwar elected Vice President,as well. It has been reported that Mr. Thapa has been active in the ongoing district football association elections to get his lackeys elected. He is in clear violation of the 10 years suspension from all football related activities at both national and international levels imposed on him by the FIFA Ethics Committee. If Mr.Thapa is to be ceased from flexing his muscle and illegally meddling in Nepal football , someone must promptly report the matter to FIFA and AFC.Unsurprisingly the ongoing district football association elections have had its share of serious irregularities,controversies and chaos, raising questions on credibility of the election.

Makwanpur and Bhaktapur football associations are examples of irregularities,where elections have spiralled into an out of control controversy. It is outrageous that ANFA is doing nothing to tackle the issue,which speaks volumes of their gross incompetence, unaccountability,coupled with sinister intentions. It is highly likely that ANFA is part of the mob that has resorted to illegal means to sway the election in their favour. If ANFA cannot ensure and safeguard the fairness, credibility and integrity of the elections, this should be immediately brought to FIFA and AFC attention. Supposing there is a complaint filed,it is totally up to the World and Asian football bodies to take stock of the situation . Whether or not they ignore it.That is a totally different story.
Should they turn a blind eye, it would be very unfortunate and would only encourage manipulators of elections further. More important,the integrity if FIFA and AFC will come into question.

There is no doubt that the ANFA election will be fiercely contested. Various factions affiliated to political parties are vying for the most sought sport association in the country. Obviously the existence of different factions reflects deep division in Nepal football.
Already a few recognized names in the likes of Krishna Thapa and Indra Man Tuladhar have announced their candidacy for ANFA presidency. It is a matter of time , ANFA President and Vice President Narendra Shrestha and Karma Tsering Sherpa respectively will join the race. Do not be surprised if more candidates throw in their hats in the ring. The way things are shaping up, it is expected to be a crowded field. The candidates fate largely hinges on the composition of the electorate, the influence they can wield and the political party backing them. At the end of the day, if the outcome of the election does not change the current leadership and management, the election becomes a farce and totally irrelevant, and is bound to have disastrous consequences for Nepal football.

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