KATHMANDU, Feb 27: Former president of All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) Ganesh Thapa has said that the current presidential candidate of ANFA, Karma Tshering Sherpa, needed to correct himself on different matters before he could run the apex body of football in Nepal.
Karma had played a key role in a campaign that had slandered Thapa, a long-serving president of ANFA. Thapa was also charged by international football body FIFA with financial irregularities.
“I have no objections if Sherpa can correct himself before leading the ANFA. For me, there is no difference between Karma and the other candidate Mani Kunwar. But they should unite for the development of football than get involved into politics,” said Thapa, through a press release issued on behalf of Nepal Sports Organization, a new sports body that he leads.
Thapa expressed his dissatisfaction against the candidacy of Sherpa and his supporters for the upcoming ANFA elections. “It will be unfortunate if Karma Tshering wins the elections. ANFA will turn into a sister-wing of a political party if he wins. His leadership will be detrimental for Nepali football,” he said at an event held in Kathmandu on Monday.
“FIFA has banned me from getting involved in football-related activities but not from talking about football at unofficial meetings. People have asked for my opinion, so I am saying that Karma Tshering is not the right person for ANFA leadership,” Thapa said. However, he conceded to the claims that he was the ‘invisible hand’ manipulating ANFA affairs. “I have dedicated 35 years of my life to football, it is in my blood, I am not an invisible power, I am what I appear to be.”
Karma Tshering Sherpa, who is leading a new group with the slogan of ‘change’, has some known names like Bir Bahadur Khadka, ANFA’s Chief Executive Officer Indra Kamal Tuladhar, and Tashi Ghale in his team.
“What is ‘change’? They are the same guys who worked with me for 25 years. They worked for Narendra Shrestha (current president of ANFA) too,” Thapa said. “I had generated Rs 80 million for ANFA that is in its fixed deposit account. If they could add another 10 million to that fund, then that will be some ‘change’.”
He also challenged Sherpa’s team to double the prize money (Rs 10 million) of A-Division League or find players such as Rohit Chand or Bimal Gharti Magar. He said that winning games against opponents like India would be ‘true change’ for Nepali football.
Thapa also claimed that Nepal Sports Organization would be established as a major sports body of Nepal in few years. “Football is my passion, I have made mistakes but I am ready to come back if the sports sector wants,” said Thapa.
On November 16, 2015, FIFA’s independent Ethics Committee had banned Ganesh Thapa for ten years from all football activities at both the national and international level. Thapa, however, denied the accusation of embezzling Rs 580 millions. He challenged the new government to investigate the matter and take appropriate action if he was found guilty.
“I have not taken a single penny,” he said. Thapa said that his son took money from the former president of Asian Football Confederation and Qatari businessman Mohammed Bin Hammam for personal use, and both of them are serving the terms imposed by FIFA. Hammam is banned for life from any football activity. “Hammam gave money to my son. I am penalized for that. I have no comments against anybody on that matter. Only the God, Hammam, or I know the truth,” said Thapa.
In its published judgment, the FIFA had stated: “Mr Thapa, in the context of the 2009 and 2011 elections for the FIFA Executive Committee at the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) congress, committed various acts of misconduct over several years, including the solicitation and acceptance of cash payments from another football official, for both personal and family gain. Specifically, he was found guilty of infringing article 13 (General rules of conduct), article 15 (Loyalty), article 18 (Duty of disclosure, cooperation and reporting), article 19 (Conflicts of interest), article 20 (Offering and accepting gifts and other benefits) and article 21 (Bribery and corruption) of the FIFA Code of Ethics (FCE). Mr. Thapa has therefore been banned for ten years from all football-related activities and fined CHF 20,000.”