Authorities in Nepal are seeking life sentences for five footballers charged with treason over alleged match fixing.
Last month, Nepalese authorities detained five footballers, including national team captain Sagar Thapa, over allegations the players colluded to fix several matches, including qualifiers for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil.
On Sunday, Bhadrakali Pokharel, Registrar at the Special Court in Kathmandu, told Agence France-Presse that Thapa, goalkeeper Ritesh Thapa, defender Sandip Rai and former players Bikash Singh Chhetri and Anjan KC “were found involved in match-fixing … accepting money to lose matches.”
The alleged chicanery stretches over an eight-year period and includes several games in Nepal’s unsuccessful pursuit of a berth in the 2014 World Cup. Nepal lost one of these matches against Jordan by a score of 9-0.
Police claim they have evidence of banking transactions linking the five with international match fixers in Malaysia and Singapore. The fixers reportedly made deposits into the footballers’ bank accounts ranging from $1,000 to $1,500.
The players have been charged with subversion (“rastra biplav“) aka treason under Section 3.3.1 of the Crime against State and Punishment Act, 1989. The Act calls for life imprisonment for anyone found to be “causing or attempting to cause disorder with the intention of jeopardizing Nepal’s sovereignty, integrity or national unity.”
Pokharel said the Court would record the players’ statements on Monday, after which a hearing will be held to determine whether the players can be released on bail or will remain in custody. The country’s football association, which intends to conduct its own investigation of the matter, has suspended the players pending the results of the police investigation.