The captain of Nepal’s football team was seized on Wednesday in a coordinated series of arrests over allegations of match-fixing.
Sagar Thapa was one of the five current and former national players taken into custody for allegedly colluding to fix several matches, including the qualifiers for the last World Cup in Brazil, Agence France Presse reported.
Authorities said they’ve recorded “banking transactions,” in which large amounts of money were deposited in Thapa and other players’ bank accounts from alleged match-fixers from Southeast Asia.
Metropolitan Police Crime Division Chief Sarbendra Khanal told the news agency the transactions were between the players and “international match-fixers, including Malaysia and Singapore.”
Sums ranging from $1,000 to $1,500 were deposited in the players’ accounts, a Kathmandu police spokesman told AFP.
The police chief said several matches in 2011 were placed under the scanner. The matches, including one against Jordan where Nepal lost 9-0, were part of the national team’s bid to qualify for the 2014 World Cup.
“We suspect that there was fixing in several competitive matches and also in some friendly matches which Nepal lost,” Khanal said, according to the report.
Nepal, currently ranked 190 in FIFA’s world rankings, has already lost its bid for the 2018 World Cup in Russia after it was defeated by India 2-0 in a two-leg qualifier.
Last June, Indonesia’s under-23 football team was accused of match-fixing during its game against Thailand and Vietnam at the 2015 Southeast Asian Games in Singapore. Authorities said a whistleblower, who was part of an underground gambling mafia operating in Indonesia, Singapore and Malaysia.