Kathmandu, June 4
Former President of All Nepal Football Association Narendra Shrestha and current executive committee Vice-president Pankaj Nembang have written to Federation of International Football Association and Asian Football Confederation regarding ANFA President Karma Tsering Sherpa’s comments on nationality of people from Terai region.
In an interview with an online portal on May 17, Sherpa had said that the people of Terai region lacked nationalism and that the ANFA conducted the grassroots programme in coordination with Nepali Army to teach them the national anthem and nationality apart from luring the children into the sport.
Sherpa, who denied of making any such comments for more than two weeks, apologised yesterday. He came under pressure after a couple of officials from his own executive committee demanded resignation in a virtual meeting on Monday, while Samajbadi Party Nepal lawmaker Bimal Prasad Srivastav raised the issue at the House of Representatives last week.
Presidents of four district Football Associations — Birat Jung Shahi (Kathmandu), Purushottam Thapa (Lalitpur), Gautam Sujakhu (Bhaktapur) and Deepak Khatiwada (Dhading) —also registered a protest letter at the Office of the Prime Minister and Council of Ministers, and the Ministry of Youth and Sports on Monday.
Former President Shrestha wrote to FIFA Secretary General Fatma Samoura and AFC General Secretary Dato Windsor John regarding the issue.
“I did not send a protest letter or anything like that. It’s like an informative letter and I just wanted to notify the international bodies about the recent development in Nepali football,” said Shrestha. “As a former president, I could not stay as a mum spectator as Sherpa’s comments were against a certain community,” he added.
Shrestha said he reacted after the issue was raised in the House of Representatives. “No one has the right to comment on caste, creed, sex, religion, race, language and geography.
I found it a sensitive issue and notified the international bodies to resolve the matter at the earliest for the benefit of Nepali football,” added Shrestha, who was surprised by the way FIFA and AFC remained silent on the matter. “The FIFA and AFC used to send at least acknowledgement whenever we wrote to them in the past, but I have not heard of anything from them this time around.”
Vice-president Nembang also wrote to the international bodies a day after Shrestha sent the letter. “I suggested a couple of ways to resolve the matter during out meeting on Monday. But the meeting took the issue very lightly after President Sherpa denied of making any negative comment,” said Nembang. “As I had no choice, I had to write to the FIFA and AFC to look into the matter. I believe President Sherpa has breached the code of ethics and the matter should be investigated.” Nembang said he notified Sherpa about his letter to the international bodies. “Unlike in the past, I sent the letter with his consent,” added.
On Wednesday, Sherpa issued a press release and apologised for the words he used in the interview. “I never intended to hurt anyone based on caste, creed, sex, religion, race, language and geography. My views were purely meant for the development of football in the region,” said Sherpa. “I believe the grassroots programme would be fruitful for the people of Terai region in paving way into the national team in the days to come.”
A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 5, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.