We are innocent, says Sagar Thapa

KATHMANDU: Nepal's suspended football team skipper Sagar Thapa said he and four other players arrested on match-fixing charges were innocent.

"We are innocent," Thapa said, speaking with journalists at the Special Court premises today, "When it will be proved, we will speak with you again."

"We have been playing for the nation for 15 to 20 years," he said, questioning the police allegation.

Thapa went on to express grief over the media portraying the accused footballers as culprits and punishing them at the time they needed more support from the media

Likewise, Sandeep Rai, who was vice-captain of Nepali national football team, said the case is currently sub judice and he would speak only after the Court pronounces a verdict over it.

"We will speak about it only after conclusion of the investigation," Rai told journalists.

When they encountered the media corps in the premises of the Special Court at Babarmahal today, all the five footballers denied their involvement in match-fixing. 

A police team deployed from Metropolitan Police Crime Division (MPCD) had apprehended captain Thapa, vice-captain Sandip Rai, goalkeeper Ritesh Thapa, former national defender Bikash Singh Chhetri, and former national player and former coach of Three Star Club Anjan KC from different places of the Kathmandu Valley.

They face treason charges for match-fixing the international games that Nepal played and rigging the results in exchange of kickbacks and thereby inflicting shame of the country.

All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) on October 15 had suspended the tainted footballers from all football-related activities until the investigation concludes.

Asian Football Confederation (AFC) on October 19 had provisionally suspended the five footballers linked to match-fixing.