| March 21, 2019

We raised voice for the rule of law, good governance and transparency: Karma Tsering Sherpa

We raised voice for the rule of law, good governance and transparency: Karma Tsering Sherpa

Nearly six month after FIFA banned All Nepal Football Association's (ANFA's) long-serving president Ganesh Thapa for 10 years, the apex international football governing body has asked ANFA to reinstate four officials it sacked in September last year. Vice presidents Karma Tsering Sherpa, Bijay Narayan Manandhar and Kishor Rai and member Narendra Bikram Nembang were sacked by ANFA during Thapa's tenure.

However, FIFA has wrote to ANFA asking it to reinstate the sacked official by May 23, hold executive committee meeting including them and get replacement of suspended president Ganesh Thapa through election. A big section of the football fraternity believes that the sacking of the officials were personal revenge by then ANFA president Thapa.

The four officials had voiced against the 'autocratic' rule of then president Thapa and also filed complaints against him at various state bodies including the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) of legislature-parliament accusing him of corruption. On the basis of the complaint, the PAC had also launched investigation on Thapa and forwarded the case to Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority (CIAA).

Republica's Prajwal Oli caught up with Karma Tsering Sherpa, who lead the dissident faction. Excerpts.

FIFA has reinstated you and the group of agitating faction led by you. What will be the significance of this move to Nepali football?

Of course it has a big significance. The voice we raised was not against any individual but for the rule of law, good governance and transparency. Our inclusion in the executive committee will be for the development of football rather than personal gain. In fact, the punishment imposed against us was with wrong motives after we filed complaints against Ganesh Thapa at the PAC and CIAA. Firstly, they (ANFA establishment and Thapa) said that we were punished because we launched anti-football activities. Later, they said we were suspended because we did not attend three consecutive meetings. But we were not informed about the meetings as per the ANFA statute.

Is the ANFA establishment willing to include you after FIFA 's instruction to reinstate you (sacked officials)?

I have learned that they still want to exclude us from the executive committee and give continuity to the current situation. I think they are moving ahead as per the instruction of suspended president Thapa who does not want to see us being reinstated. Though FIFA has set the deadline of reinstating us by May 23, they want to extend the time. They have also corresponded accordingly to FIFA. It will do no good to Nepali football rather than bring uncertainty to it.

Why and who don't want to include you in the executive committee?

Some paid staffers and some officials of the ANFA, especially those nominated rather than the elected ones do not want to see us in the executive committee. They are the ones who have been using ANFA for their personal gain rather than for the development of football. There is still a coterie in the ANFA that has been following the instruction of suspended president Thapa.

Why would Ganesh Thapa have interest in ANFA despite being suspended?

Firstly, he wants to take revenge on us and secondly he is the only one person who knows about the significance of being the chief of ANFA because he has ruled ANFA for two decades. Besides, there are still some big corruption cases during his regime yet to be unveiled. He wants to hide them. I have even learned that he has already readied the candidate for the post of president in case there is election in the near future.

What will be the best possible solution for the current impasse of Nepali football?

FIFA has already given a clear roadmap and guidance to solve the current situation. There is no choice other than to move ahead together to overcome the current situation for the development of football. We all should follow the rule of law and ANFA statute. This is the last chance and if we miss it, we are likely to face similar situation as that of Indonesia (currently banned by FIFA). We are ready to cooperate with them if they call a meeting and reinstate us in our respective designations.

Also, the majority, in fact cent percent elected members of the executive committee, wants the instruction of FIFA to be implemented.

What if the establishment does not obey FIFA instruction and excludes you from the executive committee?

In the letter sent to ANFA, FIFA has clearly stated to reinstate us (four dismissed ANFA executive members) by May 23 at the latest, convene an ordinary congress of ANFA as soon as possible thereafter and elect a replacement for suspended president Thapa. If these instructions are not followed, FIFA has warned of forming a normalization committee.

It would be misfortunate if the normalization committee is formed. The situation of football would be worse than the current state of cricket. The normalization committee will be assigned to hold election in the next six months. There are lots of interest groups who are waiting for an opportunity to make entry into football. There are even chances of political interference in selecting delegates. There is danger of real football activists being sidelined.

Lastly, do you consider contesting for the post of president in case election is held?

I have not discussed the issue with friends. We would take collective decision rather than go individually. They had suggested to me to go in the forefront in the past while we raised voice against Ganesh Thapa's autocracy. If they ask me to take the leadership, than I am ready for it. It all depends upon what they suggest and how they have evaluated me. We can discuss about this issue in future as well.