Football: Nepal national team captain and four others arrested over suspected match fixing

Nepal national team captain Sagar Thapa (above) was among five current and former international players arrested over match-fixing allegations.
Nepal national team captain Sagar Thapa (above) was among five current and former international players arrested over match-fixing allegations. PHOTO: AFP

KATHMANDU (AFP) - The captain of Nepal's football team was among five current and former international players who have been arrested over match-fixing allegations, including during qualifiers for the last World Cup in Brazil, police said on Thursday.

Skipper Sagar Thapa was detained in Kathmandu on Wednesday as part of a coordinated series of arrests in the capital, which also saw four current or former team-mates on the national side taken into custody.

Detectives said the arrests came after investigations found significant sums of money had been deposited in the players' bank accounts from suspected match-fixers based in Southeast Asia.

"We've recorded banking transactions between them and international match-fixers, including in Malaysia and Singapore," Sarbendra Khanal, chief of the Metropolitan Police Crime Division in Kathmandu, said.

"Our investigations will continue and we are discussing what charges they will face."

Khanal said that several matches played in 2011 as part of Nepal's unsuccessful bid to qualify for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were under the scanner, including a match against Jordan that they lost 9-0.

"We suspect that there was fixing in several competitive matches and also in some friendly matches which Nepal lost," he said.

Khanal said matches involving Bangladesh and Afghanistan, played as part of a regional competition, were also being investigated.

Bishwa Raj Pokharel, Kathmandu police's chief spokesman, said that sums ranging from US$1,000 to US$1,500 had been deposited in the players' accounts courtesy of the alleged overseas betting syndicates.

The arrests come a year after the head of Nepal's football federation Ganesh Thapa was forced to step aside over allegations that he embezzled millions of dollars and accepted bribes during his 19-year tenure.

The ethics committee of football's world governing body Fifa launched an investigation last year into Thapa, a former Asian Football Confederation vice-president, although an outcome to the inquiry is still pending.