Apex court acquits Nepali footballers of match-fixing, treason


The Supreme Court today acquitted former national football team skipper Sagar Thapa and five other players of treason and match-fixing in national and international games.

The division bench of justices Ananda Mohan Bhattarai and Bam Kumar Shrestha upheld the Special Court’s order after the government had moved the Supreme Court. The Special Court had acquitted Thapa, his deputy Sandip Rai, goalkeeper Ritesh Thapa, former national team defender Bikash Singh Chhetri and coach Anjan KC, along with physio Dejib Thapa, on 7 June 2018.

“The truth prevailed today and we got justice from the Supreme Court as well,” Thapa wrote on his Facebook post immediately after the verdict.

“Now, who will be accountable for our lost time and efforts, the government or the ANFA?” he asked.

Kathmandu Metropolitan Police Range had arrested the footballers from the valley on 14 October 2015 on the eve of the Dashain vacation and presented them before the Special Court on 27 October 2015. The Office of the Attorney General had booked them for treason as per Section 3.3.1 of the Crime Against State and Punishment Act-1989.

KMPR had claimed that the footballers had received $3,061 to $5,000 in matches of Merdeka Cup, Nehru Cup, SAFF Championship, Asian Games and international friendlies between 2008 and 2014.

The All Nepal Football Association and Asian Football Confederation also provisionally suspended the accused players from football-related activities, while the AFC banned them for life on 4 December 2015.

The then national team vice-captain Sandip Rai said they were glad that the apex court had cleared them of charges.

“The Special Court had cleared us two years ago and it took another two years at the Supreme Court. With the Supreme Court verdict, we can appeal to FIFA and the Court of Arbitration for Sports against our life ban,” said Rai.

Rai is miffed at ANFA for abandoning them for six years. “ANFA treated us as traitors who destroyed the nation,” he added.

“After getting the Supreme Court clearance, we hope that ANFA will approach us and help us in our bid to appeal at FIFA and CAS against the life ban,” he added.

A version of this article appears in e-paper on June 17, 2020, of The Himalayan Times.