27th GCM: Dhondupling FC crowned Champion, Shimla faces 5-year ban 

DHARAMSALA, 1 July: Dhondupling FC(DFC) team from Clement Town was crowned the champion of the 27th Gyalyum Chenmo Memorial Gold Cup((GCMGC/GCM) football tournament.

DFC was awarded the Cup of the most popular sporting event among Tibetans in exile at an award ceremony organised at Clement Town Football ground on Thursday, a week after the final match ended in controversy with the Shima FC team staging a walkout.

The final match was played between Shimla FC, the defending Champion and the most decorated team Dhondupling FC on 24 June at Paonta Cholsum Tibetan Settlement. 

The match was played only for around 17 minutes as the referee ruled in favour of the DFC team after the DFC’s captain, Tenzin Choesang scored a controversial goal by bumping into the Shimla FC’s goalkeeper. After that, the match came to an abrupt end much to the disappointment of the fans watching from the ground and live telecast on Tibet TV as Shimla staged a walkout in an apparent protest against the referee’s decision.

Tibetan National Sports Association (TNSA), the organiser of the tournament has said in a statement it released that “When the referee blew the final whistle, the game was over and DFC was declared the winner of the 27th GCM Gold Cup by TNSA.”

TNSA has further applauded the DFC “for their cooperation,” and called out Shimla FC for “misconduct and poor sportsmanship,” the statement read.

“If the DFC team and their fans hadn’t cooperated with us, we could have encountered additional issues. We were under pressure from the Shimla team and its supporters not to give DFC the winning trophy. In order to avoid aggravating the issue, we notified DFC that the winner award ceremony would be postponed. They complied with our request in a true display of sportsmanship therefore, we want to express our deepest appreciation to DFC for their cooperation,” TNSA has said.

Shimla FC Team

“Shimla United FC waked out from the match because they disagreed with the referee’s decision. The judgement of the referee is final and binding according to the GCM rule book,” TNSA has added.

Calling out Shimla for “misconduct and poor sportsmanship displayed by the Team,” TNSA has decided not to recognise Shimla as the runner-up of the tournament with a possible 5-year ban from the tournament.

“The TNSA executive committee with heavy heart has decided that the Shimla team will not be recognised as the runner-up and that its players, coach and manager are banned from the GCM event for the next five years owing to misconduct and poor sportsmanship displayed by the Team.”

However, TNSA has stated that they are “willing to revisit its decision if the Shimla team submits an apology letter signed by all the registered players, coach and manager within a month.”

Shimla FC’s Vice-Captain Dorjee Gyaltsen told Tibet Express that “ we are disappointed by the TNSA’s decision.”

He further said that as the Confederation of Independent Football Associations (CONIFA) Women World Football Cup 2022 hosted by TNSA kicks off today, they will not make any further comments until the tournament as they don’t want to cause any distraction to the Tibetan Women’s National team taking part in the tournament.

While the TNSA has stated that “We regret any inconvenience this incident has caused the general public and the fans and appeal (to) all the stakeholders, especially the players for the(ir) cooperation and understanding in order to further our organisation’s noble mission of improving the well-being of the Tibetan Community through sport,” it has also expressed “hope and anticipate that such an incident won’t happen again, and all the teams will continue to uphold the highest standards of excellent sportsmanship in the future.”

However, the incident and the decision of the TNSA have left the fans and supporters a divided lot with some applauding the TNSA’s decision while many calling it a bit harsh and unfair. Additionally, many fans have expressed outrage allegedly over “poor refereeing”. 

Kalsang Restaurant and Cafe sponsored the first Prize money(2,00,000 rupees ) for the winner while Mila Group Delhi, Snow Region Tours & Travels and Sarang Cafe Delhi & Dharamsala have collectively sponsored the cash prize(1,50,000) for the runner-up.

The top scorer, Dhondupling FC’s striker Pema Lhundup who scored 5 goals in the tournament won the golden boot while  Dhondupling FC’s captain, Tenzin Choesang who scored the controversial goal in the final match was awarded the Player of the Tournament. Dekyiling FC’s goalkeeper Tenzin Samdup took home the golden glove, and Choepheling FC from Miao was presented with the Fair Play Award.

A total of 16 teams from India and Nepal took part in this year’s tournament held at Paonta Cholsum Tibetan Settlement from 11 – 24 June.

GCM football tournament, the most prestigious tournament in the Tibetan community was first held in 1981 in memory of the late mother of the Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama.

Though the tournament was organised by various bodies for more than twenty years, TNSA took charge of organising the tournament annually since 2003.

Based on the performance in the GCM tournament, TNSA selects players for the Tibetan National Team which occasionally competes in tournaments held in India as well as foreign countries.

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