Sikkim Governor’s Gold Cup was not conducted according to the rule book by Sikkim Football Association (SFA), reported a website today. Sikkim Governor’s Gold Cup is the only tournament in the country to be continuously held for the last 32 years. It says that SFA organizers allowed three foreign clubs, two Nepalese and one from Bhutan for this year’s edition, without following due procedures. The criticism of SFA is interesting since Nepal and Bhutan have been participating in the tournament for several years now.
As per rules, the three foreign clubs to be allowed to play, SFA should have sent the regulations of the competition to the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) through the All India Football Federation (AIFF) for approval. The website claims that the procedure wasn’t followed despite Sikkim FA giving an undertaking to the AIFF that no foreign clubs would be called for in the tournament.
In a telephonic talk with iSikkim.com Tempo Bhutia, President SFA said that those who criticise SFA do not try to understand the football scenario. “Nepal and Bhutan have always been participating in the tournament. There are not many visa and passport formalities to be completed for them to participate. Apart from that many I-League teams can’t participate in the tournament”, he said. He further told that the AIFF has been sent a proposal about the same. If they don’t allow, the practice would be discontinued.
Many football fans have said that it was a breach but there are bigger issues troubling Indian Football. Teams from Nepal and Bhutan have always participated in the Governor’s Gold Cup. Who cares even if it is a breach that makes the game better.
Criticism is not unknown to Mr. Bhutia who is one of the founding members of the SFA and has been heading the association for twelve years in a row now. This is his third term which has already expired, though, he continues to serve on extension till March next year when the new president will be elected. He says that his critics should be happy that he is planning not to fight for re-election next year.
Asked about the development of football under him he said that despite all the difficulties he has been holding the tournament without a break. “It is not easy to get sponsorship or invite teams to play football now-a-days. The cost of organising such events have gone up and getting sponsorship is not easy”, he said. He further told, “Many new grounds are coming up. Paljor Stadium will be turf laid by December 31 this year. The Tenjing Namgyal ground near the Palace in Gangtok is being grass grounded with the help of FIFA. We waited for the Governor’s Gold Cup to be finished but now the work will begin in a week from now. Near Khel Gaon also a fully equipped ground will be built soon”.