News 16 October 2015

Nepali footballers charged with match-fixing

The All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) has said in a statement that it is ‘extremely saddened and shocked to hear’ that Nepali police have arrested five former and current international Nepali footballers. The ANFA named the five as being under investigation for match-fixing allegations, and include current national team captain Sagar Thapa. The others charged have been named as vice-captain Sandip Rai, goalkeeper Ritesh Thapa, as well as former players Bikash Singh Chhetri and Anjan KC. Anjan KC has also been the coach of the Three Star Club, who play in the first tier of the country’s domestic competition.

‘On the back of a long-term collaboration between the Asian Football Confederation [AFC], Sportradar Security Services and the Nepal Police, the Kathmandu Valley Metropolitan Police Crime Division proceeded with the arrest of five Nepali players (former and current) linked to match-fixing this week’, read an emailed statement from Sportradar. ‘The process leading to the arrests began when suspicious betting patterns were detected on a number of matches played by the Nepali national team. A year-long investigation followed involving matches stretching back to 2008 with further intelligence gathering revealing suspicious financial transactions linked to Nepali nationals. The intelligence gathered was shared with the Nepali Police and a formal investigation began which has so far resulted in five arrests. The AFC will launch the appropriate disciplinary proceedings in due course.’

Senior Superintendent of Nepal’s Metropolitan Police Office, Sarbendra Khanal, told Reuters that preliminary examinations of the players’ accounts had found connections to known match-fixers in Malaysia and Singapore. Khanal told The Himalayan Times that Police had been monitoring social media activities and international banking transactions.

The ANFA said that while the case was being investigated by the Nepal Police, the association was committed to providing any help needed. The ANFA further said that it had ‘refrained’ the four players and coach from taking part in any kind of football related activities until the case was resolved. Khanal also told Reuters that the players were implicated in a deep network of brokers and fixers in other countries, but because the investigations were still at a preliminary stage he was not in a position to disclose whether officials from the ANFA would also be implicated.

The players were allegedly involved in match-fixing in eight games played since 2008 and earned as much as Rs 10 million (€84,740) per game as a result, according to local media reports. The games involved were allegedly international matches, including a 2008 match against Aghanistan where the players involved reportedly earned US$5,000 (€4,390), and a 2009 match against Malaysia in which they took home US$3,061 (€2,690).

As well as facing disciplinary action from ANFA and the AFC, a criminal investigation against the players could result in fines and imprisonment if found guilty. In March this year, the Sports Integrity Initiative reported that the Investigatory Chamber of FIFA’s Ethics Committee announced that it has launched an investigation into alleged misconduct by the ANFA. The President of ANFA, Ganesh Thapa, at the time suspended himself for an additional 90 days whilst the investigation was carried out, after previously carried out a 120 day self-imposed suspension. According to Reuters, Thapa is currently in the middle of a court battle against four Vice Presidents he fired from the organisation earlier this year.

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