Archery: In an unprecedented move, an archery team filed a case against the organisers of a popular archery tournament, Yangphel Archery Committee, for disqualifying the team during the 19th Yangphel Open Archery Tournament in 2015.

After discovering that team Golden Arrows and Bhutan Festival were involved in a physical brawl on August 18 during the knockout stages of the tournament, the organisers decided to disqualify both the team as per the regulations of the committee.

The match umpire during the game, Kinzang Tashi immediately stopped the game after players from Golden Arrow and Bhutan Festival started fighting.

Team Golden Arrows, however, felt that the organisers were intentionally setting them up. In a petition submitted by the team to the Thimphu dzongkhag court on September 7, 2015, Golden Arrow claimed that the team was in the lead during the particular round and the organisers had conspired to take them out of the tournament.

The team in their petition had said that only the team captain was involved in the physical brawl and there was no reason for disqualifying the whole team. The team had also accused the match officials for official misconduct and had said the officials were drunk during the match.

As a part of their petition, team Golden Arrows had claimed Nu 1 million from the organisers along with a refund of the registration fee of Nu 10,000 and expenses of Nu 86,500 that was incurred by the team during the match.

Yangphel defended by saying that both the teams were physically involved in a fight during the match and as per the regulations of the committee, Yangphel had the right to disqualify a team for disciplinary issues during a match.

“The decision of umpires would be final and binding in terms of scoring and match proceedings but any disputes/fights/quarrel/disciplinary issues that may or may not be connected to the match, would be dealt as per the Laws of the Kingdom. And in regard to such disciplinary issues, the Executive Members of Yangphel Archery Committee reserves the right to disallow players from continuing during the tournament or for specific number of future tournaments or all other future tournaments based on severity of the case,” states the Yangphel regulations.

During the trial, Yangphel proved that not only the captain of both the teams were involved in the fight but also at least three men from team Golden Arrows were involved in the physical assault through eyewitnesses and match officials.

A video clip was also presented to the court as proof, where the three members of team Golden Arrows were seen fighting. In their defence Yangphel stated that since three of the players of the six registered were clearly involved in the fight, a team with just three players couldn’t compete in the tournament.

According to the Yangphel regulations, a minimum of five players must be present no later than five minutes prior to the start of the game, failing which the team will be considered as having provided a walk over. “A walk over will result in a zero score,” states the regulation.

Bench-III of the Thimphu dzongkhag court in their verdict produced on December 20 last year stated that the court acknowledged that there was a physical brawl between the two teams and the captains of the two teams were also involved in the fight and the decision made was in favour of Yangphel Archery Committee.

The video clip produced by Yangphel in defence further proved that more than one individual from team Golden Arrows were involved in the fight, states the verdict.

The court also stated that according to section 96.1 of the Civil and Criminal Procedure Code, the plaintiff could not prove the claims on the involvement of just one player from the team in the physical assault.

The committee’s secretary general Tsewang Rinchen said that now that the case was concluded, the committee is happy with the verdict. “Initially we were surprised that the court would even accept such a case to be tried in court,” he said. “We hope that the ruling will act as a deterrent for people engaged in competitive sports to refrain from the use of violence,” he added.

As an organising committee, Tsewang Rinchen said that the Yangphel remains committed in their efforts to adopt zero tolerance towards any violent behaviour in the archery tournament.

Younten Tshedup