Three FIFA referees and three assistant FIFA referees have submitted joint resignation to the All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) on Thursday expressing dissatisfaction over the football governing body’s decision to test their fitness during the ongoing Martyrs Memorial ‘A’ Division League.
The six have already submitted their resignation while two other referees who are out of the capital city have also agreed to resign, said one of the referees on condition of anonymity.
ANFA has announced to test their fitness on December 21 while their last fitness test was conducted on September 23.
Prakash Nath Shrestha, Nabindra Maharjan and Prajwol Chhetri are among the FIFA referees and Nani Ram Thapa, Kishan Kanaiya Yadav and Sahadev Shrestha are the assistant referees who are said to have resigned.
“We met ANFA President Karma Tsering Sherpa today to submit a request to conduct a fitness test only after the league. But rather than reading our application, he accused us of groupism and warned us not to engage in politics. In fact, he humiliated us,” said one of the referees.
When asked why the referees refused to undergo a fitness test, one of the referees said they need a month of preparation before such a test. “Only officiating matches won’t be sufficient for a fitness test. We need special training for that and going directly into a fitness test may result in injuries,” he said.
ANFA President Sherpa, however, rejected the allegation that he humiliated them. “I never humiliated them and suggested they discuss it with the referee department. Fitness test is the department’s plan and we cannot change it. As per the international practice, the referees need to take a fitness test before the game and also during the game. There might be one or two referees who cannot pass the fitness test, so they came with a group demanding the test be postponed for now to make their case strong,” said Sherpa.
He also claimed that their resignation was a ploy to interrupt the ongoing league. “In their resignation letter, they have asked for permission to resign. The league is running smoothly and some people are not happy with the success of the league,” said Sherpa adding it was unethical on the part of the referees to resign en masse while the top tier league is running.
After the appointment of Indian national Gautam Kaur as referee director, the referee department has been trying to strictly enforce its rules.
There are currently four FIFA referees and six assistant referees. Altogether there are 25 referees and assistant referees including national referees.
Two league matches are scheduled for Friday with Three Star taking on Friends Club in the early kickoff while Satdobato Youth Club will take on APF in the late fixture.