Banned for life from football, former Druk Stars coach could see severe punishment

Yangchen C Rinzin

Druk Stars Football Club’s former coach, Kota Namgay, who was earlier banned for life from football for match-fixing has been now charged for passive commercial bribery by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG).

The OAG charged the former coach who is also the owner of Druk Stars Football Club on October 7 for seven counts of passive commercial bribery, in which he accepted Nu 882,764 in bribes from an Indian national.

According to the Anti-Corruption Act 2011, passive commercial bribery is a misdemeanour or a value-based sentencing, whichever is higher. Considering the amount involved, the accused will be liable for a fourth-degree felony as per the Penal Code of Bhutan.

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), who investigated the case of match fixing last year, forwarded the report to the OAG in July this year.

Describing the case as a threat to sovereignty, the first of its kind, and one that would discourage football enthusiasts, the OAG has requested maximum sentencing from the court, and payment of Nu 882,764 in restitution.

According to the OAG, Kota Namgay took bribes totalling Nu 882,764 for match fixing during two different tournaments, paid through a series of ATM deposits from India.

Three counts were charged against him for accepting bribes in exchange for conceding goals to Gomo Football Club (FC) during the Bhutan Super League 2020. He accepted a bribe of Nu 399,000 during the tournament. His Club came fourth.

Another four counts were added for asking his goalkeeper to concede goals to Paro FC during the Bhutan Premier League 2020. He accepted a bribe of Nu 483,764 during the league. Druk Stars came last in the league that season.


Money from India

It was found that an Indian counterpart paid him through a series of ATM deposits to accounts maintained with the Druk PNB in Bhutan. Although Kota Namgay had confessed to the match fixing, he refused to reveal the identity and details of the Indian partner involved. Despite the investigation and several attempts, the ACC could not identify the details of the depositor.

ACC’s investigation revealed that during the Bhutan Super League 2020, the day before the match with Gomo FC, Kota Namgay instructed his five key players to under perform and let the opponent win. The players were introduced to the Indian counterpart, who gave them Nu 500 each. Kota Namgay even approached two players and the coach of Gomo FC on the same day, and told them to score one goal each in the first and second half of the match. On the day of the match, Kota Namgay deliberately selected young and inexperienced players as the first 11 players for the match from his club.

The investigation also revealed that during the first match of the Bhutan Premier League in 2020, between Druk Stars FC and Paro FC, Kota Namgay told three key players to let Paro FC win, promising them Nu 1,000 each. The players were not paid after losing the game. The goalkeeper was also asked to concede goals.

The investigation also found that Kota Namgay had repeatedly approached the captain of Paro United FC during the 2020 Bhutan Premier League to let Thimphu City FC win by offering the captain Nu 100,000.

ACC investigations further found that Kota Namgay had deliberately called his players during matches for water breaks and reminded them to concede goals by committing fouls or handling the ball inside the penalty area.


Case background

The allegation of match fixing first surfaced during the match between Druk Stars FC and Paro United FC at Changlimithang Stadium on September 24 of last year. The OAG official said that during the match, it was observed that Kota Namgay was pressuring his players to let their opponent win.

The management of the Bhutan Football Federation (BFF) observed the former coach of the Druk Stars FC walking out during the match, and when questioned after the match, Kota Namgay confessed to match fixing upon the instruction of a non-Bhutanese person.

Based on the evidence and statements from the players, the Disciplinary Committee decided to ban him for seven years and impose a fine of Nu 250,000, and furthermore relegated Druk Stars FC to dzongkhag league from 2021.

However, dissatisfied over the decision, the executive committee of the Federation appealed to the Appeal Committee, where the Committee imposed a lifetime ban on Kota Namgay from all football activities under the umbrella of the federation.