By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, June 25: The final game of the 2022 Gyalyum Chenmo Memorial Gold Cup was mired in controversy as Shimla FC decided to walk out mid-game after a contentious goal by opponent Dhondupling FC was allowed by the referee. Dhondupling Football Club (DFC) from Clement Town in Dehradun is the default winner after Shimla FC refused to continue the game.
DFC striker and captain Tenzin Choesang scored the only goal after he bumped into Shimla FC’s goalkeeper who jumped to collect the ball from an incoming cross. “We are all sportsmen. To be honest, winning a tournament like this is not something we had expected. We cannot say that the goal was not a goal as the referee judged it to be a goal. We stayed on the ground for over 15 minutes for the opponent team to return. It was not good sportsmanship on their part,” the DFC captain told Phayul after their controversial win.
Phayul’s repeated attempt via phone call to Shimla FC went unanswered. However, their official Instagram account on Saturday stated that they have appealed to the organizers for a rematch, proposing to start the game from the earlier score of 1-0 in favour of DFC. As of today, the Tibetan National Sports Association is yet to officially declare the 27th GCM winner, as the prestigious cup and the prize money has not yet been awarded to Dhondupling team. TNSA Executive Director Tenzin Rinchen declined to speak on the matter but told Phayul that a statement will be issued shortly. Sources say that a meeting is underway with the organising committee to resolve the matter.
Video clips widely circulated on the internet and micro messaging apps showed the settlement Officer of Poanta, Gelek Jamyang who is a member of the organising committee of the tournament announcing to the audience and players on Friday night that there will be no official ceremony for the winners yet, while referring the whole incident as “disappointing”.
The apex Tibetan sports body, many say, deserves to face backlash from football fans who on many occasions cried foul over the poor quality of referees throughout the tournament. Netizens were divided over the win, as over 5000 comments were posted on Tibet TV’s live telecast of the final match. “I think the goal was a clear foul; the referee’s decision was very poor. TNSA would be better off next time if they could have background checks not only for players, but for referees as well. Last night’s final was tarnished by the referees,” football fan Jinpa from Dharamshala told Phayul.
Another football fan Ngawang Lhundup from Rajpur argued that both the teams were at fault, “Shimla could have resumed the game since there was still 70 minutes left for the match and I am sure they would have gotten plenty of chances to score. But DFC could have also accepted that it was a foul and that would have been it.” Many opined that the DFC’s goal was originally a foul, citing the referee’s poor decision-making skill, whereas others argued that Shimla FC withdrawing from the game showed poor sportsmanship.