Football: Football in Bhutan is far from becoming professional given the limited resources and talent pool available. While the local games are improving, lack of proper system is hampering the growth of the sport.

In a recent football controversy, the illegal transfer of players from one club to another has created much hype in the sport. Breaching of contracts by some of the players has spurred confusion among the clubs.

Two of the most popular players Chencho Gyeltshen and Hari Gurung’s decision to move from Thimphu FC to Thimphu City FC and Transport United respectively are examples.

In a letter to the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF), Thimphu FC general secretary Yiwang Pindarica said that there has been a breach of contract between the player and Thimphu Football Club. “After signing a contract with Thimphu FC last year, the players have even starting playing for another club while still under contract with Thimphu FC.”

Chencho Gyeltshen who earlier had a contract with a Thai Club was then transferred to a Bangladeshi Club. After the completion of his contract in Bangladesh, Thimphu City FC signed the striker for the new season in Thimphu.

However, the move is being seen by Thimphu FC as a breach of contract and in the letter to the federation, Yiwang Pindarica requested the BFF’s intervention. Chencho who played in the national league for Thimphu FC  had signed a contract with the club that expires on December 17 this year.

Similarly, the national goalie’s move to the recently upgraded club Transport United was also seen as a breach of contract that Hari had with Thimphu FC. Hari had signed a contract with the club until December 19.

An official from Transport United said that it was Hari who came forward and wanted to play for the new club. United’s list that included Hari as a player was not objected to by the federation, the official added.

Beginning last year the federation in accordance with the AFC regulation, has introduced the BFF Club Licensing Regulation procedure to establish a reliable and credible league with a minimum standard for participating clubs.

Including the rest of the sporting criteria, the regulation also demands a written contract between the club and the players to qualify to participate in the league.

BFF officials said that Thimphu FC failed to submit the documents before the deadline, which is why Hari’s move to another club was entertained.

Yiwang Pindarica said: “No one at the federation took in the matter before deadline, therefore, I was not able to submit it on time. There was a miscommunication between the federation and the club. I had the list with me and carried it everyday to BFF asking for help but the person in charge was out of station and when he came back he told me its too late.”

Meanwhile, federation officials said that since Chencho’s international transfer certificate is now with Thimphu City, he can legally play for the club in the on-going Thimphu league. While in Hari’s case, officials said that they have requested both the clubs (Transport United and Thimphu FC) to sort it out among themselves.

Another Thimphu FC player, Kencho Tobgay, has also moved to Druk Stars FC before the completion of his contract term.

Yiwang Pindarica said that clubs should be responsible for the player and take the best interest of their players. “Unless there is an autonomous body safe guarding the player, the player cannot represent himself,” she said.   “A player also cannot just walk into the club. This is un-sportsman like behaviour and without closing the previous contracts, word of mouth cannot be taken here as an assurance.”

Younten Tshedup