Ritesh Thapa

Nepal’s former national football captain and goalkeeper are among five players charged with treason over alleged match-fixing in World Cup qualifiers in 2011, an official said Sunday.

“The government has charged the five footballers arrested last month with treason and has sought a life sentence as punishment,” Bhadrakali Pokharel, Registrar at the Special Court in Kathmandu, which is hearing the case, told AFP.

Skipper Sagar Thapa and goalkeeper Ritesh Thapa were among five players taken into custody last month as part of a coordinated series of arrests in the capital.

Detectives said the arrests came after investigations found significant sums of money deposited in the players’ bank accounts from suspected match-fixers based in Southeast Asia.

“The footballers were found involved in match-fixing… accepting money to lose matches,” Pokharel said.

Pokharel said that they were charged under a 1989 act, which says that anyone “causing or attempting to cause disorder with the intention of jeopardising Nepal’s sovereignty, integrity or national unity, shall be liable for life imprisonment”.

The arrests come a year after All Nepal Football Association (ANFA) president Ganesh Thapa was forced to step aside over allegations that he embezzled millions of dollars and accepted bribes during his 19-year tenure.

The ethics committee of football’s world governing body FIFA launched an investigation last year into Thapa, a former Asian Football Confederation vice president. The outcome to the inquiry is still pending.

FIFA has itself been rocked by a series of corruption scandals and allegations in recent months, leading to the suspension of its president Sepp Blatter. – Agence France-Presse

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