Decision to ban futsal draws fury

  • Sports enthusiasts term move ‘outrageous’, hold up DAO to ridicule
- Manish Gautam, Kathmandu

Jan 15, 2016-

The District Administration Office (DAO), Kathmandu, has imposed a ban on futsal, a popular indoor soccer game, for a reason that sports enthusiasts and youths say “defies all logic”.

The DAO took the decision to ban futsal in the Capital saying “futsal facilities are causing disturbance in society and spoiling youngsters”. 

Authorities have claimed that futsal centres remain open till late in the night and not only disturb the neighbourhood but also promote drugs abuse and alcohol consumption among teenagers. The DAO has said that it “will lift the ban only after regulating it.”

But youths and sports enthusiasts have described the move as “oppressive, outrageous and a case of traditional policing”.

“The decision is atrocious,” said Bisham Ghimire of Anamnagar, who regularly plays futsal. “Issuing a blanket ban in the name of regulating the game is unacceptable. If there were problems at some places, the administration should have dealt with them on case-to-case basis.” 

There are around 50 futsal centres in various parts of Kathmandu and of late the game has gained huge popularity among the youth. 

For some city dwellers, futsal is more than just a game, as they take it as a form of exercise, for the Capital hugely lacks separate gardens for physical activities or jogging areas. In the aftermath of the earthquake, futsal grounds also served as a 

safe place for people in Kathmandu which seriously lacks open spaces. 

On the sudden ban, Kathmandu Chief District Officer Ram Krishna Subedi said the move follows complaints from locals that futsal grounds were becoming the hotbed of drug and alcohol abuse. “We want to regulate the game and curb wrongdoings,” said Subedi. “There are also issues related to tax and money charged for playing games.” Stating that the authorities do not even know how many futsal grounds are operating in Kathmandu, Subedi said, “The futsal operators will be allowed to resume their business after all the issues are sorted out in the next few days.”

Superintendent of Police Bishwo Raj Pokhrel, spokesperson for the Metropolitan Police Range, Teku, said initial investigations carried out by the law enforcement agency had showed that there were increasing cases of gambling in futsal. 

While the ban has riled futsal enthusiasts no end, social media users were quick to hold up the DAO and police to ridicule. 

“Absolutely rubbish to close down #futsal venues in #Kathmandu. Excuse provided outlandish. Wake up n deal w real problems!! Let kids play!,” tweeted Satish Raj Pandey, a public health official. 

“Nepal Police has commanded all Futsal centres of Kathmandu Valley (Kathmandu, Lalitpur, Bhaktapur & Kirtipur) to shut down with immediate effect from today,” Dhuku in Chandol area, one of the futsal centres, posted on its Facebook page. 

“According to them, new rules are being regulated for futsal and till then all futsal centres will remain closed for indefinite period.” 

Raj Maharjan, owner of Dhuku, who is the coordinator of a futsal operators’ committee formed to hold talks with the DAO, condemned the DAO decision. He, however, admitted that there were some problems. 

“But the blanket ban has again hit our business which was hugely affected by the earthquake and the blockade,” said Maharjan. “We held a meeting with the CDO today. We will be meeting on Sunday as well and hold further talks on the issue.” 

With the ban in force, pre-booked futsal matches have been cancelled, causing loss to futsal operators.

Published: 15-01-2016 08:29

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