Nepal national team footballers arrested on charge of match-fixing in national and international games

KATHMANDU: Three members of Nepal national football team, including captain and vice-captain, and two former national players have been arrested in the Kathmandu Valley on charge of match-fixing in national and international games and their alleged nexus with bookies on Wednesday.

According to the Metropolitan Police Crime Division (MPCD), those detained today are captain Sagar 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.

Skipper Thapa and Rai are affiliated with Three Star Club, while Chhetri and KC were with the same club earlier. Goalkeeper Thapa is associated is affiliated with Nepal Police Club.

Thapa duo had debuted for the national team in 2003, KC in 2005, and Rai and Chhetri in 2008.

All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) CEO Indraman Tuladhar and manager Ramesh Rayamajhi confirmed that the footballers were arrested by police.

"We are surprised by the news. We are making enquiries," Tuladhar told THT Online over phone.

SSP Sarbendra Khanal, the chief of MPCD, said that the arrests were made after receiving complaints and tip-offs that the five were involved in match-fixing of national and international games.

"They are accused of making quick bucks through match-fixing in cahoots with national and international bookies and fixers, and hurting the faith of fans and fellow countrymen," SSP Khanal said.

"We were keeping tab on the suspects for some time," SSP Khanal said, "We had been monitoring their Facebook activities and international banking transactions."

It has been learned that police were alarmed at Nepali national team's dismal performance in international matches since 2011.

Police said at least one of the suspects has allegedly made investment in a casino in Sikkim of neighbouring India.

Police are looking into the allegations and are also trying to ascertain which laws would be applicable against their alleged offences, which, according to SSP Khanal, were tantamount to organised crimes against the state.

"More people are likely to be dragged into the case as investigation progresses," SSP Khanal said.

Captain Thapa was detained from Thapathali, Chhetri and KC from Jawalakhel and Ritesh Thapa and Rai from Baluwatar. They have been kept in detention at the Metropolitan Police Crime Division, Teku.

Meanwhile, ANFA will officially speak about the arrests and the alleged match-fixing on Thursday, according to ANFA manager Rayamajhi.