10 April 2022

There are no secrets in Nepali football

The other day I was on a very long call with a Nepali football official - let's call him Mr. X. He was going on about how deeply he cared about football and that he was one of the few "nishwartha" (selfless) people involved in the local game. Mr. X claimed he was a giver and not a taker and only had the best interests of Nepali football in his heart. He went on to talk about his decades service to football and listed a litany of his accomplishments - which frankly was not that impressive.

A few hours later I was on another call, this time with a local sports equipment store. I had ordered a bunch of footballs for an academy I am supporting.  I asked the sports equipment store owner for a discount on my purchase and he informed me that he always quotes me the very best rate, because unlike other football officials I don't ask for commission on my purchases. He then went on to give me an example of how one football official keeps asking him for very high margins on kickbacks and commissions thus he had no choice but to inflate his prices by almost 30-40% to them.  The name of that official? You guessed it - it was Mr. X! 

The fact is there are no secrets in Nepali football. Ones movements, meetings, conversations and behaviors are all tracked. Not by the state - North Korea style, but by a very close-knit society where everyone knows everyone and people love to gossip. Whether at weddings and festivals or by hotel managers and store keepers, word gets around and it gets around fast. It therefore really astounds me when Nepali football officials try to paint a false picture of themselves. Who are they trying to fool? Their secrets are out there for all to easily discover.

When I was directing Machhindra FC back in 2013/14, I would sometimes personally go to the Kalimati vegetable market to pick-up ingredients for our team meals. Many other clubs and ANFA also frequented the same market and coincidentally the same stalls. One of the vegetable sellers once showed me a few of the duplicate receipts he was producing for the different football organizations. Let's just say Nepali football players were eating some very expensive meals.