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5 most controversial sportspersons in Nepal you should know about

Nepal football team's head coach Abdullah Al Mutairi.
Nepal football team’s head coach Abdullah Al Mutairi. Photo: Aryan Dhimal

With Nepal’s football governing body, the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) electing the new leadership, the future of Abdullah Al Mutairi as the coach of the Nepal national team is at stake. It is not only because the new president has sour relationships with the Kuwaiti coach, but Al Mutairi’s stint in Nepal is filled with a lot of other controversies too. In less than one and a half years, he has established himself as one of the most controversial sportspersons in Nepal.

A few months ago, the former captain of Nepal’s national football team, Hari Khadka, was convicted of forging academic documents by the Special Court, dragging himself to the centre of controversy in the country’s sports sector.

There are many controversial sportspersons in the country. Sports personalities playing, coaching or managing different sports–be it football, marathon or any–have time and again made the headlines for all positive as well as negative reasons. And, here, we bring you the list of the most controversial sportspersons in the country.

1. Abdullah Al Mutairi

Since the beginning of his tenure as the coach, Abdullah Al Mutairi’s attitude has been questioned and controversy has always revolved around him.
Since the beginning of his tenure as the coach, Abdullah Al Mutairi’s attitude has been questioned and controversy has always revolved around him.

Abdullah Al Mutairi is one of the most loved coaches of the Nepali men’s football teams. Yet, he has been dragged into controversy several times. In July 2021, he was accused of misbehaving with a female journalist while she was reporting in the ANFA complex. 

The controversy does not end here. In the same month, the head coach announced his resignation on his social media account. But, he did not submit a resignation letter to the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA), making himself one of the most controversial sportspersons in Nepal.

Following the incident, ANFA received flak from thousands of Nepali football fans. They accused the football governing body of being involved in politics to oust Al Mutairi. 

This is not the end of the story.  Again, in October, the coach announced that he will step down after the SAFF championship final. In a post-match conference of the SAFF Championship, after a 1-1 draw against Bangladesh, he announced that he would resign from the post and would never come back to Nepal.

However, the coach could not stay with his decision. In fact, he extended the contract with Nepal. As per the renewed contract, Almutairi would coach the national team till 2024 end. But, he again had a feud with senior players of the team. Investigating the case, the football governing body has recommended for terminating his contract.

2. Hari Khadka

File: Hari Khadka

On January 26, the Commission for the Investigation of Abuse of Authority filed a corruption case against Hari Khadka at the Special Court. He was accused of forgery during his service in Nepal Police and also found guilty. He was charged a fine of Rs 5,000 for the offence.

Khadka was appointed the assistant inspector of Nepal Police in 1998. To get this job, he had submitted a fake intermediate level certificate from the Higher Secondary Council of Varanasi, India. Based on the same certificate, he also got promoted to the sub-inspector’s position in 2002. 

Despite being one of the most controversial sportspersons in the country, Khadka, a former coach of the national women’s team, is the head of the Women’s Football Department at the All Nepal Football Association, Nepal’s football governing body.

3. Sagar Thapa

File: Sagar Thapa

Former national football team skipper Sagar Thapa–along with deputy Sandip Rai, goalkeeper Ritesh Thapa, defender Bikash Singh Chhetri, coach Anjan KC, and physio Dejib Thapa–was arrested by Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Range on October 14, 2015, on the charge of treason and match-fixing in domestic and international games.

It was claimed that they had received large sums of money and deliberately lost many matches between 2008 and 2014. The matches included those of World Cup qualifiers 2011, Asian Games, Nehru Cup, Merdeka Cup, SAFF Championship, and international friendlies.

Consequently, all the players were provisionally suspended by the All Nepal Football Association and Asian Football Confederation and imposed a life ban by the Asian Football Confederation.

The footballers were acquitted of all the charges by the Special Court and the Supreme Court in 2018 and 2020. However, they could not erase the charge of being controversial sportspersons.

4. Rajendra Bhandari

Rajendra Bhandari had secured two gold medals in the 3000 m steeplechase and 5,000m race at the 2006 South Asian Games, which was a record in itself. But, soon, the controversial sportsperson was stripped of the medals when he was caught doping. 

In a doping test, the presence of the anabolic steroid, norandrosteronelt, was found in his body. That substance is prohibited by the world anti-doping agency. But, Bhandari said he did not know how the substance got into his body as he used to take supplements under the super as the report of the doping test was revealed only after a month which otherwise would take 24 hours.

5. Tilak Ram Tharu

Athlete Tilak Ram Tharu also takes place in the list of controversial sportspersons.  In 2014, Tharu hid in South Korea under the pretext of participating in the 17th Asian Games. Along with him, three other national players also hid out in South Korea. 

The controversial sportsperson had a national record in 200-metre and 400-metre races. Similarly, he has also been the national champion of 100-metre, 200-metre, and 400-metre races. Tharu is also an olympian. He participated in London Olympics in 2012, representing Nepal. 

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