“The only thing that remains constant in life, is change”
This must be the favorite adage for, Mohammed bin Hammam, the Qatari football official, who spearheaded Qatar’s successful bid to win the 2022 World Cup. It was the winds of change that got this son of a businessman and a nurse to Qatar’s football confederation and eventually made him the boss of Asian football.
Scandal-tainted Hamman has been banned temporarily from any kind of football-related activity at national and international level for a period of a maximum of 90 days, by FIFA’s Ethics Committee – in order to prevent interference with the establishment of the truth.
Hammam was once a candidate to oust FIFA President Sepp Blatter as the sport’s worldwide leader. But he was accused of enriching himself and handing out hundreds of thousands of dollars to friends and relatives, often for benefits that is not considered lawful. An example of leadership erring, and the game being shamed…
The storm brought about by the whole episode might just have been a small news for us, had it not been connected to AFC staff Gaurav Thapa. People in the sports fraternity know that Gaurav Thapa happens to be ANFA President Ganesh Thapa’s son. Naturally, that created some murmurs. But before anybody could charge Thapa senior of anything, he claimed that the transaction was a personal matter, meaning it have nothing to do with the FIFA affairs.
The whole issue got another turn when a Television channel showed a letter signed by National Sports Council Member-Secretary, Yubaraj Lama, demanding ANFA President’s clarification over the whole issue. It categorically asked Thapa, why was the money taken from bin Hammam and if law of the land was followed while taking that money.
When asked by the same television channel, Lama replied that the letter was written and signed by him but was not sent to Thapa, after consultation with his legal advisors. Probably that would have ended the whole story, had Thapa not tried to intimidate the journalist covering the story, the following day.
When Management Guru, Peter Drucker said, “Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things”, he was talking about setting examples. And both these sports leaders – Lama and Thapa – have set bad examples, in the whole issue.
Both of them have messed up an issue that was already messy. When Lama said he consulted legal advisors after signing a letter demanding clarification, how many people believed it? If he was being honest saying this, it shows that he signs letters on whims and thinks about it later. That definitely doesn’t talk highly about his leadership skills. After all, we are talking about demanding clarification from a person that has been ANFA chief for well over one and half decade. Ganesh Thapa, by no means, is a pushover in Nepali sports.
The signature on the letter and the statement that letter was never dispatched shows a power wrangling between two big-wigs of Nepali sport. And that is definitely not a good sign. Already we have squabble over two Olympic Committees to take care of.
ANFA chief Thapa’s intimidation of a journalist is another worrying sign. Lama, in his statement to the TV channel had already said that Gaurav Thapa was an AFC employee and cash going to his account does not necessarily involve ANFA. To be fair to the ANFA chief, he cannot be held accountable, even if his son is involved in any wrongdoing, neither should he be prosecuted to that.
In light of this, Thapa’s ire is difficult to understand and neither is it amusing. It would be interesting to ask him, why is he angry, and on whom? Getting angry just on a news report does not suit a leader, who is in a public post. Being President of ANFA means that you are going be in public eyes constantly. You’re likely to be questioned every moment. And if you can’t take criticism, you don’t deserve accolades either. That’s leadership for you.
For one has to understand, the limelight that makes you glow, can also cause blisters sometimes. That is, if you’re not careful.
(PS: This write-up appeared in weekly column of Yours Truly in The Kathmandu Post – OFFSIDE – on 30th July, 2012)